Dean Nelson to Leave Colgate


 In July, Nelson will start her post at M.I.T.

On Wednesday, February 24, Colgate Interim President Jill Harsin released a statement to all students and employees that Dean of the College Suzy Nelson will be leaving her position at Colgate, effective June 2016. Harsin’s email noted that Nelson will continue her career in higher education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Nelson recently accepted the position of Vice President of Student Life at M.I.T., where she will begin working on July 1, 2016.

Appointed by Colgate’s 16th President Jeffrey Herbst in late March of 2012, Nelson began her role as Dean of the College in June 2012. In her four-year term as Dean, Nelson collaborated with fellow members of the Colgate administration, faculty, staff and students to make significant changes to student life and implement initiatives in many disciplines. She was also instrumental in the development of the Shaw Wellness Institute in its new home in the Cutten Complex in 2012 and the implementation of the Residential Commons program, geared toward increasing faculty-student engagement on campus. In Fall 2014, Nelson and other members of the administration collaborated with sit-in participants to draft and implement the community-wide adoption of Colgate For All’s 21-step action plan facilitating diversity and inclusion on campus.

Last semester, Nelson served as the administration’s representative in its response to issues of sexual violence on campus. She facilitated student-administration communication and informed the Colgate community about events pertaining to sexual violence awareness and prevention.

In addition to her efforts to create thriving academic and residential communities for students, Nelson has worked closely with specific on-campus organizations, including The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services and LGBTQ Initiatives, to ensure a multi-faceted, healthy undergraduate experience for all students at Colgate.

Nelson’s resignation comes in the wake of multiple administrative turnovers in the past few years. Both Herbst and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks did not continue their positions into the 2015-2016 academic year.

In a 2013 interview with The Colgate Maroon-News upon her completion of her first year as Dean, Nelson outlined the goals she wished to accomplish during her time at Colgate. The broader aim of her initiatives on campus was to create a safe campus environment focused not just on academic excellence, but advancement outside of the classroom as well.  

Nelson assumed her role as Dean at Colgate with 25 years of experience in various roles within institutions of higher education. She has held positions at Harvard, Cornell and Syracuse. Nelson stated in an interview with The Colgate Maroon-News in 2013 that Colgate students possess a certain uniqueness incommensurable to students at similar institutions.

“They’re intelligent, but this passion and sense of involvement … for what they’re doing, whether it’s academic or extracurricular, it’s just off the charts,” Nelson said.

In her community-wide email, Interim President Jill Harsin ensured that she will keep the Colgate community updated on progress regarding the recruitment process for an interim Dean of the College, a position the administration plans to fill in the near future.