St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf names Susan Rundell Singer as its next president

St. Olaf College’s 12th president will be Susan Rundell Singer, an experienced leader in higher education who has led national efforts to advance undergraduate teaching and learning. She is currently the vice president for academic affairs and provost at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she is also a professor in the Department of Biology. 

The St. Olaf Board of Regents appointed Rundell Singer to the position by a unanimous vote. She is the first woman to serve as president of St. Olaf. She succeeds David R. Anderson ’74, who will retire after having led the college since 2006. Rundell Singer will take office in June.

“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,” Rundell Singer says.

Before joining Rollins College in 2016, Rundell Singer served as the director for the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Rundell Singer was recruited to this 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 2013–2016, 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

“I am so eager to be part of a campus that is centered in a community I have long called home,” Rundell Singer says. “I see St. Olaf as a beacon of light in higher education. Every Ole, supported by advisors and mentors, creates their own pathway integrating coursework and co-curricular experiences. They will be prepared for meaningful careers and empowered to address pressing global issues. I envision a St. Olaf where every Ole thrives, developing intercultural competence and many other skills needed for future work and life.”

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 St. Olaf 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. Susan embodies the mission of St. Olaf and shares our vision for the college’s future. She is taking the helm of an institution that has seen incredible progress over the last 17 years under the leadership of President Anderson, and we’re excited about how she will build on this success.”

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 is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow, and recipient of the American Society of Plant Biology teaching award and Botanical Society of America Charles Bessey award. She is currently an Association of American Universities Senior Scholar, chairs the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Science Education, and serves on the Board on Life Sciences and the Roundtable on Systematic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education. She chaired several NASEM studies, including Discipline-based Education Research.

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.”

The presidential search committee, chaired by Stephanie Fehr ’87, included regents, former regents, faculty and staff members, and a student. The group was assisted by Storbeck Search.