Susan Rundell Singer will serve as twelfth president of the College beginning summer 2023
Susan Rundell Singer will become the next president of St. Olaf College, per the Board of Regents’ announcement on Feb. 21. She will assume the office in June 2023 upon the retirement of current President David Anderson ’74. Rundell Singer will be St. Olaf’s 12th president and the first woman to hold the position.
In an interview with The Olaf Messenger, Rundell Singer expressed her hopes for St. Olaf’s future. She highlighted what she sees as the importance of experiential learning opportunities — what she called “learning by doing” for St. Olaf students.
“There’s so much out there that shows students are really looking for relevance in their learning, and almost everything we do at undergrad has relevance, but sometimes that’s a little hard to see,” she said.
When asked what she wanted St. Olaf to be known for, Rundell Singer focused on integrating the College’s priorities and learning more about the character of the school. “I want to know what St. Olaf wants to be valued for,” she said.
“I want us to be true to who St. Olaf is,” Rundell Singer said. “You can take the US News and World ranking and you can figure out all sorts of strategies to bump your numbers up in different categories. That’s a game, that doesn’t benefit students.”
Rundell Singer also spoke about the value of a liberal arts residential college. “[Some students have] never lived with people from so many different backgrounds that see the world, experience the world in a different way,” she said. “It’s such an important part of your learning experience.”
Rundell Singer hopes that St. Olaf will become a more nationally recognized college. “I want St. Olaf to be a place where my faculty friends across the nation send their children here because they know this is a place to get one of the best educations possible,” she said.
During her speech, Rundell Singer also emphasized that Northfield was her home. She taught in the biology department at Carleton College for over 30 years and will be returning to Northfield from Rollins College in Florida.
Rundell Singer is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Rollins College, where she also teaches biology. She previously worked as the Director for the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation and at Carleton College.
The announcement of St. Olaf’s next president comes almost two years after Anderson announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. Anderson informed students of his retirement in May 2021.
The Presidential Search Committee consisted of eight current and former members of the Board of Regents, professors Louis Epstein and Anthony Bateza, Director of Government, Foundation, and Corporate Relations Valeng Cha ’95, and former Student Government Association president Andrew Nelson ’23.
The search committee, chaired by Regent Stephanie Fehr ’87, held public forums and collected survey information to gather community feedback during spring semester 2022.
In Nov. 2022, Fehr announced to the student body via email that the search committee’s first selection for the new president had withdrawn from consideration due to “challenges with family commitments and timing.” At the time, Fehr assured students that the committee would select a candidate during the spring semester.
The college held a public ceremony on Feb. 21 to welcome Rundell Singer to campus. Jay Lund ’81, the chair of the Board of Regents, introduced Rundell Singer. According to Lund, the Presidential Search Committee “enthusiastically and unanimously recommended the next president of St. Olaf College.”