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. In his successor, 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 their faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by the Lutheran tradition.
Founded in 1874 by Norwegian Lutheran immigrants, St. Olaf is a nationally ranked liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located in Northfield, Minnesota. St. Olaf offers a traditional four-year liberal arts education distinguished by both breadth and depth. Within the bachelor of arts degree program, academic majors are offered in 39 different disciplines and subject areas in the natural and mathematical sciences, fine arts, social sciences, and humanities. The college employs more than 300 full- and part-time faculty members and has a student-faculty ratio of 12:1. In addition, St. Olaf has nearly 500 staff members who support the college’s mission and its many functions.
St. Olaf’s 3,000 students come from all over the U.S. and across the world, representing diverse backgrounds and experiences. Members of the Class of 2025 hail from 47 states and 63 countries. Eighteen percent are first-generation college students, 23 percent are domestic students of color, and 15 percent are international. Students come from a wide range of religious traditions; of the Class of 2025, the largest share of students (36 percent) have no specific religious preference. About 20 percent identify as Lutheran.
St. Olaf is one of just three liberal arts colleges in the country that offer fully accredited majors in art, dance, music, and theater. Its bands, choirs, and orchestras are world-renowned and central to campus life. Approximately one-third of St. Olaf students are involved in music. St. Olaf has 200+ registered student organizations and 26 varsity NCAA Division III athletic teams, 13 for men and 13 for women.
St. Olaf’s picturesque campus, known as “The Hill,” is located in Northfield, a historic river town of 20,000 in the southeast part of Minnesota, just 45 minutes from the Twin Cities and Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) international airport. As a residential college, 97 percent of St. Olaf students reside on campus. Adjacent to campus are 325 acres of restored wetlands, woodlands, and native tallgrass prairie owned and maintained by St. Olaf. Historic downtown Northfield, within walking distance of campus, features coffeehouses, sandwich shops, restaurants, gift stores, and local art galleries. Northfield is also home to Carleton College, an athletic rival whose campus is just across the Cannon River.
St. Olaf’s nearly $750 million endowment supports many aspects of the life of the college, including financial aid for students, professorships, and academic and co-curricular programs. The college is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of every student. In the 2021-22 academic year, 98 percent of students received need- or merit-based financial aid.
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.
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. More details may be found at wp.stolaf.edu/presidentialsearch/prospectus.
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.
Nominations and applications should be submitted electronically as soon as possible. The St. Olaf College Presidential Search Committee will begin to evaluate applications in April 2022. Although applications will be welcomed until the time that a new president is selected, candidates should submit materials no later than May 23, 2022 to ensure fullest consideration. The new president is expected to begin serving by July 1, 2023. Applications should include a letter of candidacy that responds to the agenda for leadership and the desired attributes for the president and a complete résumé or vita. All application materials will be considered in full confidence. Please send all nominations, inquiries, and applications, electronically to:
Julie E. Tea, Managing Director
Julie Williams-Krishnan, Senior Associate
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.