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College of Saint Rose president to step down June 30

College of Saint Rose president to step down June 30

President Carolyn Stefanco stirred controversy as she cut programs, faculty to close budget shortfalls
College of Saint Rose president to step down June 30
The College of Saint Rose President Carolyn J. Stefanco is shown on Aug. 20 in Albany.
Photographer: Staff file photo

ALBANY -- The College of Saint Rose President Carolyn Stefanco will step down from her position June 30, the college announced Tuesday.

During her tenure, Stefanco focused on raising the college's national profile to attract a larger base of students. She also oversaw the creation of new programs, particularly those developed because of student interest, and welcomed two of the college's largest first-year classes in its history. New programs the college established with Stefanco at the helm included degrees in cybersecurity, music performance and an expansion of computer science offerings. 

"Dr. Carolyn Stefanco led the way in bringing the benefits of a Saint Rose education to the world, welcomed new international students, broadened academic support for our students, led the development of new academic programs and leadership opportunities for women," Jeffrey Stone, chairman of the Saint Rose Board of Trustees said in the release announcing her June departure. "And accomplished all of this at a time of significant enrollment and financial challenges for small private colleges across the country." 

The college developed 20 new academic programs under her leadership and launched its first national student recruitment effort. Stefanco also focused on expanding the college's international programs and worked to draw more international students to campus.

But Stefanco also stirred angst within the college throughout her tenure: the college's faculty in 2016 approved a "no confidence" vote amid a wave of budget cuts many felt were overly harsh. In the months prior to the vote, Stefanco had announced a plan to eliminate 28 academic programs and terminate 23 full-time faculty.

The eliminated programs included many that were considered at the core of a liberal arts education, such as philosophy, American studies, sociology, economics and others. Faculty members and students repeatedly protested the cuts and called for Stefanco's ouster, but she ultimately survived the turmoil.

Private colleges across the Capital Region have seen a change in top leadership in recent years: Union College welcomed its new president, David Harris, to campus in July 2018, and Skidmore College recently named Marc Conner as its new president come this summer. 

Stefanco, in the college's release, said she planned to write, speak and consult on women's leadership in higher education. The college plans to appoint an interim president after her departure while it conducts a national search for her successor. 

"I chose The College of Saint Rose because it offered me the chance to give back to students who were like me as an undergraduate," said Stefanco, who was a first-generation college student. "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with employees in all divisions of the college who are as committed as I am to helping students to exceed their expectations." 

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