The Presidential Search Committee of St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN) invites applications, expressions of interest, and nominations of candidates in its search for the college’s 12th president. The search was launched in response to President David R. Anderson’s decision to retire in June 2023, following a celebrated 17-year tenure.

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More than a campus, a community

St. Olaf seeks a community-oriented leader with clear vision coupled with a commitment to the enduring value of a rigorous and holistic educational experience. The next president will both sustain and evolve the College as it realizes its mission to challenge students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by the Lutheran tradition.

Role of the 12th President of St. Olaf College

The president of St. Olaf is the executive leader of the college and reports to the Board of Regents. The president will be expected to lead with discernment, empathy, and a sense of determination that will propel the college’s trajectory of excellence and academic distinction and effect even greater financial sustainability. In close collaboration with the senior leadership team, the president will have overall strategic, financial, and operational responsibility for the college. Moreover, the president will enhance the existing platform to attract a diverse community of outstanding students, faculty, and staff while developing effective programs to support their retention and success.

Agenda for Leadership for St. Olaf’s Next President

St. Olaf has just completed a visioning process which has outlined several goals for the future of the college. The new vision statement is: “St. Olaf College will be known as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, nationally and internationally recognized for excellence, academic rigor, and community inclusivity, while developing and preparing students of character to lead lives of substance as contributing citizens of the world.” The agenda for leadership for the next president is to help bring this visioning statement to fruition. Among the most important priorities for the next president are:

Desired Attributes for St. Olaf’s Next President

St. Olaf seeks a president who will embrace the distinctive mission and core values of the college, who embodies a courageous spirit, demonstrates the depth and breadth of knowledge associated with a liberal arts community, and has the capacity both to consult with and lead such a community with conviction. The president will possess significant administrative experience and the ability to attract new resources and collaborative partners to the college.

The candidate of choice will be a servant leader with a highly relational approach, outstanding communications skills, humility, authenticity, self-confidence, integrity of the highest order, a strong work ethic, and a clear understanding of higher education. While the Presidential Search Committee is eager to consider many possible pathways to the St. Olaf presidency, candidates possessing a terminal degree will be preferred. The candidate of choice will be:

  • A strategic and visionary leader and systematic planner with a proven ability to develop a shared vision, articulate a clear and coherent plan, implement the plan, and unify constituents behind it.
  • A strong champion of the liberal arts and an articulate spokesperson for their profound impact on lifelong learning.
  • Deeply committed to and possessing a broad record of achievement in a range of initiatives that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
  • A faithful person with knowledge of and abiding respect for the ELCA tradition coupled with a commitment to uphold its tenets.
  • A genuine, enthusiastic, and highly visible leader who is interested in interacting with the various members of the St. Olaf community and participating in the intellectual and social lives of the students, faculty, and staff.
  • An outstanding communicator able to listen carefully and synthesize ideas shared by members of the St. Olaf community, as well as to speak boldly and eloquently about the college to a wide range of constituencies.
  • A forthright, balanced, accessible, and committed supporter of the principles of shared governance, transparency, and inclusive decision-making.
  • A gifted fundraiser with experience finding traditional and non-traditional sources of funding, including but not limited to individuals, foundations, corporations, and government sources.
  • A strong manager with the capacity to make timely and sometimes difficult decisions and to communicate those decisions with clarity and care.
  • An entrepreneurial person with financial acumen who will aid the college in matching ambitions with available resources while thinking innovatively about growth opportunities.
  • An affirming team builder who will empower others and optimize the effectiveness of a talented and seasoned leadership team.
  • Technologically savvy with a fluent understanding of pedagogical strategies and approaches that enhance student learning and student success, including active learning strategies and technological approaches to program delivery.
  • An energetic, optimistic, authentic, relational, compassionate, and ambitious individual with good humor who will provide respected, long-term leadership.
Eligible candidates for the college’s next presidency will be those who are members of the ELCA or a member of a denomination in full communion with the ELCA, which means that it shares the values and primary beliefs of the ELCA and St. Olaf College. The ELCA’s full communion partners include the Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, The Moravian Church, and United Methodist Church.

St. Olaf College is an equal employment opportunity and voluntary affirmative action employer. The College is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community. With regard to its hiring and employment practices, the college prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment based upon an individual’s legally protected status including race, color, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, or status with regard to public assistance.