CASTLETON—Karen M. Scolforo, Ed.D., has began her tenure as President of Castleton University. Officially, her first day at the helm was Dec. 4.
Scolforo is the fourth woman to lead the University since its founding in 1787, and the tenth president of the modern era. She joins the Castleton family after spending four years as president at Central Penn College located in Summerdale and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“I am grateful to be in a position to help lead such a wonderful university. I cannot thank the Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) Board of Trustees enough for this opportunity,” Scolforo said. “The first time I stepped foot on the campus, I felt as if I was already home. I’m looking forward to learning and growing alongside our students, faculty, and staff.”
Scolforo was appointed to the position on Sept. 28 by the VSCS Board of Trustees after an extensive search. The Trustees, who unanimously voted to appoint Scolforo, roundly endorsed her leadership vision for the University at a time of dynamic change in higher education.
“Dr. Scolforo is just the kind of leader we were looking for: experienced, energetic and collaborative. She led the development and implementation of Central Penn’s strategic plan with positive results. She places a high value on partnerships with the community. Over the course of her career, Dr. Scolforo has dedicated her career to sustaining strong institutions and, in particular, opening doors of opportunity for students,” said VSCS Board Chair Martha O’Connor at the time of Scolforo’s appointment.
While at Central Penn, Scolforo successfully elevated the college’s profile, forging strategic partnerships with local and regional leaders to develop programs that helped the advancement of both the college and the surrounding area.
As the leader of the 1,400-student private college, she helped to develop and implement a strategic plan that expanded college operations, renovated campus facilities and housing, added both undergraduate and graduate programs, and developed curriculum options that impacted training and employability of graduates. These growth initiatives led to improved recruitment and retention of a diverse student population, while doubling the college’s endowment, and improving the overall student experience.
Castleton University has experienced similar growth over the last 16 years under the guidance of former President Dave Wolk. Since 2001, Castleton has invested nearly $100 million in infrastructure improvements, while also making strategic investments in athletics, the arts, and academics. The university now boasts 28 varsity sports, more than 50 student clubs and organizations, and over 400 community partnerships that provide students experiential learning opportunities through internships, civic engagement, and research.
“It is my honor and privilege to build on Dave Wolk’s legacy and to stand on the shoulders of the Castleton University presidents before me to lead this amazing institution into the future,” Scolforo said. “As the higher education landscape continues to evolve, we are uniquely positioned to transform challenges into opportunities for our students, thanks to our diverse co-curricular offerings, relationship-based education, and commitment to the region.”
Scolforo holds a doctorate of education, with a cognate in higher education administration and finance, from the University of North Florida; a Master of Arts in writing and literature from Rivier University (N.H.); a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University; and a bachelor of science in education from Franklin Pierce University.
While completing her doctorate at the University of North Florida, Scolforo served as executive director of Fortis College in Jacksonville, Fla, where she developed new academic programming and led enrollment growth over four years. Previously, she served as president of the Jacksonville campus of Keiser University and regional vice president of operations for Southeastern Colleges. During her time at Keiser, she led substantial growth at KU Jacksonville and throughout the Southeastern Colleges.
In 2016, Scolforo was honored as both a Woman of Excellence by the YWCA and one of the Central Penn Business Journal’s Women of Influence. Dr. Scolforo also received the Care to Share award at the Conference for Women, and her executive leadership team was nominated by the Central Penn Business Journal for the Executive Leadership award. She was named Century Link Business Woman of the Year in 2017.
Throughout her professional career, Scolforo has relied heavily upon shared governance, collaboration, and relationship-building. She has served on the boards of several community organizations while holding membership in regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce.
Born and raised in New England, Scolforo, like many Castleton students, was a first-generation college student with a passion for the arts and outdoors and is happy to now call Vermont her home.
Photo courtesy of Castleton University