Saratoga Springs

SUNY Empire State College names Northern Colorado administrator as new president


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Lisa Vollendorf, the interim provost and chief academic officer at the University of Northern Colorado, was named the sixth president of SUNY Empire State College, the institution said in a statement.

The start date for Vollendorf, who emerged from five finalists, has yet to be announced soon.

Vollendorf held faculty appointments at six public universities, and she served 16 years in the California State University system.

“I am both honored and excited to join SUNY Empire State College as its next president,” Vollendorf said. “I’ve spent my entire career championing the power of higher education to build a more inclusive, equitable society. I believe deeply in SUNY Empire’s mission of meeting students where they are to help them achieve their educational dreams.”

Nathan Gonyea, who has served as officer in charge at SUNY Empire since December 2020, will remain in that role until Vollendorf arrives.

The search committee included four members of the college council, six faculty representatives, two students, an alumni representative, a campus-related foundation representative, an academic dean, a professional employee, a support staff member, a college senate member, a member of the chancellor’s senior staff, and three non-voting representatives.

Consultants from Storbeck Search partnered with the search committee.

John Maggiore, chairman of the SUNY Empire State College Council, and chairman of the presidential search, said, “The breadth of Dr. Vollendorf’s administrative skill set, together with the depth of her academic experience and achievement, make her a compelling choice to lead SUNY Empire State College into its next half century of accessible, top-quality, innovative education for motivated adult learners. SUNY Empire is poised for strategic growth.”

Dr. Vollendorf has held faculty appointments at six public universities: Miami University of Ohio (1995-97); Wayne State University (1997-2005); California State University, Long Beach (2005-12); San José State University (2012-17); and Sonoma State University (2017- ). She also directed the Hispanic Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2003-05). In her career, she has been a faculty member, department chair, academic senate chair, dean, and provost.

Currently serving as interim provost and chief academic officer at the University of Northern Colorado, Dr. Vollendorf previously worked for 16 years in the California State University system. During that time, she was a faculty member, department chair, academic senate chair, dean, and provost at three different CSU campuses.

Among her academic leadership highlights, Dr. Vollendorf served as dean of humanities and the arts at San José State University from 2012-17, where she led the efforts to revitalize the Hammer Theatre and created a faculty leadership development program. From 2017-20, she served as provost and executive vice president at Sonoma State University. In collaboration with faculty, students, and staff, she helped lead Sonoma State to record graduation and retention rates. She helped lead the institution through numerous emergencies before becoming special advisor for academic continuity and operational planning at the California State University Office of the Chancellor in July 2020.

Dr. Vollendorf’s research focuses on the cultural history of women in Iberia and Latin America during the early modern period (1500-1700). An established scholar with grants from such institutions as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Newberry Library, the Huntington Library, and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, she has published two monographs, six edited books, and 35 chapters and articles.

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