Burlington College Announces New President and Dean

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Burlington College has named current Vice President of Administration and Finance, Christine Plunkett, the new president of the college. 

Plunkett has been with the college since 2007.  Since October, she has been serving with retiring Dean and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Art Hessler, as part of the interim leadership team named when Jane Sanders resigned as president. She will officially begin her appointment as the fifth president of the college on June 1.

A ten member search committee, which included students, faculty, staff, trustees and outside community members, launched a comprehensive national search in January.  From over 60 applications, five finalists were selected by the committee to participate in extensive campus-wide interviews with faculty, staff and students. 

“We are very pleased to make this announcement,” said Adam Dantzscher, Chair of the Burlington College Board of Trustees.  “This has been an exhaustive search, with many highly qualified candidates brought forward.  Ms. Plunkett was selected as the best candidate to continue the college’s mission at this time due to her extraordinary commitment to the college and its students, her energetic leadership style, her administrative experience, and her vision for the future. The Board of Trustees extends its full support to her as she moves forward.”

Dantzscher praised the work of the search committee, citing the many hours devoted to the search and interview process.  “This was a thorough process carried out with great integrity,” said Dantzscher. “The Board is indebted to the committee members for their contributions to a successful search.”

Plunkett grew up in Vermont and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Vermont. She went on to earn her Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Northeastern University. She served as a member of the development team for the groundbreaking financial software VisiCalc, and worked as an independent financial and software consultant in the greater Boston area for over ten years.

Plunkett has held administrative positions in secondary and higher education for over thirteen years, with extensive prior experience in accounting, finance and technology consulting, and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the staff at Burlington College in 2007, she was an administrator at the Gailer School, an independent secondary school in Middlebury, Vermont, where she also served as Interim Head of School from 2000-2002. She has served as a trustee on the board of the Bridge School in Middlebury. 

As a member of the President’s Council at Burlington College, Plunkett has been an active participant in college-wide decision-making, strategic planning, and accreditation reviews.  In 2010, she participated in a higher education leadership symposium at Southern New Hampshire University, focusing on fundraising, board relations and finance. In 2011, she was one of 42 college vice presidents nationwide selected to participate in the year-long Executive Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by the American Academic Leadership Institute, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Council of Independent Colleges.

“It is an honor for me to accept the Board’s invitation to lead the college forward,” said Plunkett. “As stewards of our newly acquired campus with historic buildings and thirty-two lakefront acres, we are in a unique position to develop a vibrant and innovative educational, cultural and community institution. I look forward to working closely with the college’s faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and friends as we expand our enrollment while maintaining the student-centered focus that is our hallmark.” 

Plunkett is credited with significant growth in the college’s unique academic programs in Cuba over the past year.  Her recently announced tuition policies, including a 25% summer tuition discount, frozen tuition for the 2012-13 academic year, and a four year tuition guarantee for entering full time students have been recognized nationally as a creative approach to addressing college affordability concerns of students and parents.

Plunkett announced to the college community today that she has named Dr. Stephen St. Onge as the Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.  St. Onge will replace retiring Dean Art Hessler, who steps down at the end of June. 

“I am delighted that Dr. St. Onge has agreed to join the college as a key member of my administration,” said Plunkett.

St. Onge has served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, New York since 2004. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Vermont, a Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University.

“Dr. St. Onge brings to the college great strength in the areas of student recruitment and retention and enrollment management,” said Plunkett.  “His experience extends well into the academic arena as well, including teaching, and a focus on assessment and learning outcomes.  His collaborative leadership style, enthusiasm and creative ideas will bring great energy to the campus and I am looking forward to working with him.”

Plunkett says that she and St. Onge will prioritize the student experience as a focus over the next few years, combining a student centered learning environment and strong academic programs with an affordable tuition model.

Read the letter from the Chair of Board of Trustees, Adam Dantzscher

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Burlington College Announces New President and Dean