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President's Office

Laura Sykes ’98
Interim President and Professor Emerit

Megan E. Oman
Executive Assistant

President’s Biography

Former Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty Laura A. Sykes ’98 has been named interim president of Colby-Sawyer College for the 2024-25 academic year. Sykes will become the first alumna of the institution in this leadership position.

Sykes, who retired in 2023 following 30 years at the college, will replace outgoing President Susan D. Stuebner.

“The trustees and I are thrilled that Laura agreed to put her retirement on pause to return to the college to lead us during this interim period,” Chair of the Colby-Sawyer Board of Trustees Lisa Hogarty ’81 said. “Laura retired last spring to tour the U.S. with her husband, Jon, climbing steep rock walls and exploring the beauty of our country. Now she will use her ‘climbing ropes’ to propel her back to New London, where she will seamlessly take the leadership mantel. There is no one more ready and qualified to do this job.”

Sykes brings considerable administrative and academic expertise to the interim presidency. She began her career at Colby-Sawyer College in 1993 and served as director of the Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center while she earned her bachelor’s degree from the college. From there, she enrolled at Antioch University-New England, where she earned a Master of Science and a PhD in environmental studies.

Sykes joined the Colby-Sawyer environmental studies faculty in 2001, teaching not just in the classroom, but also in the White Mountains and other locations throughout the country. She was awarded the Jack Jensen Award for Excellence in Teaching, the college’s highest teaching award, in 2009, served as chair of the environmental studies department from 2013 to 2016 and was named New Hampshire’s Environmental Educator of the Year in 2014.

Sykes accepted a one-year appointment as interim academic vice president in 2016. Following a national search and due to the great work she did as interim, Laura was selected to be the permanent academic vice president and dean of faculty and fulfilled that role in exemplary fashion for the next seven years. During that time, she saw the college through a widescale review of academic programs, a strategic pivot to the health sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the introduction of new programs and a redesign of the liberal education program. She also led the faculty through the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to introduce remote learning, then adapting policies and practices as guidelines and restrictions changed.

In 2023, Sykes was recognized with the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal for Distinguished Service, the college’s highest honor. She currently holds the rank of professor emerit.

“Despite retiring one year ago, I have continued to follow Colby-Sawyer College and I am honored to return to lead and serve this institution once again as it transitions to its next president,” Sykes said. “Sue’s leadership over the last eight years was transformational. She doubled the college's endowment, led the way through two years of record fundraising and strengthened the academic portfolio of the institution by adding several graduate programs, all while demonstrating her deep appreciation and caring for the Colby-Sawyer and greater New London communities. She will be fondly remembered for these accomplishments, and I am excited for the opportunity to continue her work in guiding this special institution forward.”

Sykes will serve as interim president from mid-August 2024 through May 2025. During that time, the college will conduct a national search for its 10th president, expected to take office in June 2025.