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With Its President Retiring, Sarah Lawrence College Searches For Successor

The 10th President of Sarah Lawrence College, Karen Lawrence, announced that she is stepping down in July.
The 10th President of Sarah Lawrence College, Karen Lawrence, announced that she is stepping down in July. Photo Credit: Stefan Radtke
Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College Photo Credit: Facebook

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. - After a decade of service to the community as President of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, Karen Lawrence has officially announced that she will step down as the 10th president of the institution in July.

Since taking over for Michele Tolela Myers in August 2007, Lawrence has “successfully led the college through the recession, national concerns over higher education affordability and accessibility, changes in enrolling students’ demographics and attacks on the relevance of the liberal arts in a shifting economy,” according to the school's Board of Trustees.

During Lawrence's tenure, Sarah Lawrence has seen a rise in enrollment and has seen improvements in arts and technology and environmental studies programs. She oversaw the implementation of studying abroad opportunities and the college joined the NCAA in the Division III for the first time. Lawrence is also credited with helping establish the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak.

The Board credited Lawrence with undertaking the “most successful fundraising campaign in the history of the college, with more than $120 million raised,” with a goal of $200 million.

“Karen Lawrence’s greatest legacy will be her leadership and fundraising success, which allowed the college to maintain the affordability of the distinctive Sarah Lawrence eduction,” former Board Chair John Hill - who was at the helm from 2008 until May, stated. “The hallmarks (of that education) are small classes and one-on-one interaction between students and faculty, during a period of national economic turmoil.”

With Lawrence announcing her plans to step down, Sarah Lawrence formed a search committee as they look for their next president. The committee includes trustees, alumni, students and faculty members, chaired by Mark Goodman. An announcement is expected during the winter.

“While we are going to miss Karen’s many strengths, we must now undertake a national search for the person who will succeed her as president of this special and distinctive college,” Board of Trustee Chairman John Hill wrote in a letter to constituents. “She has preserved Sarah Lawrence’s unique pedagogy while garnering resources for new initiatives in environmental studies, arts and technology.”

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