Introducing President Susan Rundell Singer
St. Olaf College’s 12th president is Susan Rundell Singer, an experienced leader in higher education who has led national efforts to advance undergraduate teaching and learning.
“I’ve admired St. Olaf for many years. Grounded with a clear sense of mission and values, St. Olaf provides a holistic, residential liberal arts education that prepares students for successful lives, rich with meaning and purpose. I am thrilled to work with everyone who is part of the St. Olaf community to create together the next chapter of the college’s history,” says Rundell Singer, who is the first woman to serve as president of St. Olaf.
Rundell Singer comes to St. Olaf from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she was the vice president for academic affairs and provost as well as a professor in the Department of Biology. Before joining Rollins in 2016, Rundell Singer served as the director for the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She was recruited to that role after she led a study for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) on effective undergraduate learning and teaching. While at the NSF from 2013 to 2016, she led efforts to advance undergraduate STEM education across 14 federal agencies, overseeing a $350 million annual budget and investment portfolio of $1.2 billion.
While these roles have taken Rundell Singer across the country for the last decade, her Minnesota — and Northfield — roots run deep. She served as the Laurence McKinley Gould Professor in the Biology and Cognitive Science Departments at Carleton College for 30 years, where she also directed the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching. She’s looking forward to bringing her passion and expertise back to the Northfield community.
I am so eager to be part of a campus that is centered in a community I have long called home.Susan Rundell Singer
“A holistic, residential liberal arts education is simply the very best preparation for life and a meaningful career. St. Olaf offers an abundance of learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, opportunities for every Ole to create their own pathway, guided by wise and caring advisors and mentors,” Rundell Singer said in remarks to students, faculty, staff, and alumni who gathered for a special chapel service February 21 to welcome her. “Underlying all of these elements of the student experience is the foundation of Lutheran faith that is both rooted and open. I love that everyone is invited into conversation to explore faith, never compelling belief. St. Olaf’s core values provide a true north, even when we encounter challenging situations. This is a community that genuinely wants every student, faculty member, and staff member to thrive, to belong. Not an easy aspiration, but essential. Telling St. Olaf’s story will be a joy.”
Rundell Singer’s scholarship focuses on partnerships and networks of organizations collaboratively advancing undergraduate STEM education, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Equitable and excellent undergraduate education is a signature element of her successes at Carleton, NSF, national organizations, and Rollins.
“In Susan, we have found a president with a national reputation, local ties, impeccable credentials, and the experience to lead St. Olaf to new levels,” says Board of Regents Chair Jay Lund ’81. “Our search committee put their hearts into this process, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.”
In Susan, we have found a president with a national reputation, local ties, impeccable credentials, and the experience to lead St. Olaf to new levels.St. Olaf Board of Regents Chair Jay Lund ’81
Rundell Singer earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. She and her husband, Gary, have three grown children and a new puppy, Emmy.
“I look forward to co-creating St. Olaf’s future with faculty, staff, and students. I plan to listen and learn, and to get to know people across the campus,” Rundell Singer says. “Look for me on the Hill. Stop and introduce yourself. Share your dreams for this remarkable college with me and let me know when we can do better.”