New Trustees Bring Diverse Perspectives

At the May 13 trustees meeting, Marlboro College welcomed three new trustees who add a diversity of background and perspective to the board. Together, the new trustees bring expertise in social justice, nonprofit leadership and management, international relations, and higher education.

“I believe strongly in the value of a liberal arts education, while recognizing that it is not what every student wants or needs, just as Marlboro is not the right college for every student seeking a liberal arts education,” said new trustee Susan Wefeld (pictured, right), a certified coach, consultant, and parent of sophomore Eric Wefeld. “Marlboro has been a terrific match for Eric, and I recognize and appreciate how lucky we are to have found our way here. Serving on the board of trustees is a wonderful opportunity to become more directly involved in this special college community, and to help ensure that Marlboro continues to grow and thrive far into the future.”

Susan brings more than thirty years of social justice nonprofit leadership and management experience to her new role, including extensive experience with overseeing development, human resources, finance and operations, and programs. She held several positions at the Ms. Foundation for Women, including executive vice president, and served in leadership positions at a number of other nonprofit organizations. Susan served on 11 other boards, including four (in addition to Marlboro) that she serves on currently.

“I believe Marlboro’s future lies in being clear about what unique attributes the college offers, including its close-knit learning community, small class size, the Plan, its focus on writing and experiential learning, its rural setting. At the same time we need to be adept at understanding how Marlboro might want or need to change to better serve and attract students both now and in the future.”

“I visited Marlboro to talk about international relations and was immensely attracted to the setting and the students,” said Rodney Bent (left), who also joined the board of trustees in May. The former interim president at Millenium Challenge Corp., Rodney has decades of experience as a foreign affairs professional, from being a senior advisor in Iraq’s coalition provisional authority to directing the United Nations Information Centre.

“Both of my parents were college professors so I grew up in an environment where the liberal arts were prized,” said Rodney. “Although most of my professional career was spent doing other things, mostly focused on international relations, particularly international development, I’ve especially enjoyed various teaching opportunities.” Rodney has taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, as a guest lecturer at other universities in the Washington DC area, and as a Woodrow Wilson fellow at colleges all over the United States.

“No question we live in a difficult environment for liberal arts colleges. The competition for talented students, educators and financial resources is fierce. There is also a greater richness of opportunities for students, either in exploring vocations or working for organizations in the private and non-profit sector that didn’t exist thirty years ago. At the same time, the value of a liberal arts education that exposes students to new disciplines and perspectives endures. The challenge for the Marlboro community is how best to use its advantages in this competitive world.”

“Marlboro College in itself is very compelling to me, as an institution of higher education that fosters liberal learning with a reach and an intensity that I admire deeply,” said new trustee Donna Heiland (left), who has dedicated her career to higher education. Donna is currently vice provost for academic affairs at Pratt Institute, and has served in leadership positions at Emerson College, the Teagle Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She also earned tenure in the English Department at Vassar College.

“I spent nearly 12 years as a professor of literature at a liberal arts college and learned to cherish the kind of learning that can happen at such an institution,” said Donna. “In the administrative positions I’ve held on campuses since then, I’ve been able to help shape the best possible environment for faculty, staff, and students. I hope and trust that this focused experience will have some immediate relevance at Marlboro, though I know very well that institutions have their own distinct cultures.”

Donna’s work with organizations that support higher education at the national level gave her a working knowledge of how to garner financial support for higher education, and a chance to participate in national conversations about higher education’s future. “One goal I have in serving on Marlboro’s board of trustees is to bring that national perspective to bear, and let it inform our perspective,” said Donna. “I’d also very much like to learn what Marlboro is bringing to the national conversation about higher education, and do my part to make sure that message is heard.”