Smith graduate Sarah Pfatteicher to lead Five Colleges

Sarah Pfatteicher commencement15_6946.jpgFollowing a national search that drew 200 applications, the Five College board of directors appointed Sarah Pfatteicher executive director of the consortium, beginning April 23. This new role represents a return to the area for Pfatteicher (pronounced FAH-ticker), who attended high school locally at Northfield Mount Hermon before attending Smith, where she graduated in 1988. She went on to earn her PhD in the history of science at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1996.

“I’m excited to return to the Valley and honored to have the opportunity to work with these unique and storied institutions,” she said. “I’m particularly drawn to the unusual breadth of the Five College portfolio and its inclusion of both academic and administrative programs.”

Pfatteicher served most recently as associate dean for academic affairs and as a research professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. A specialist in ethics, she oversaw more than 70 academic programs, services for 5,000 students and a budget of $2.3 million. She has extensive experience in both academic and administrative efforts, having created new academic programs, led a major curriculum revision, coordinated strategic planning efforts and helped develop a blueprint for diversifying her college, all while teaching engineering courses.

“The board was impressed with the breadth and depth of experience that Sarah will bring to the position,” said Jonathan Lash, president of Hampshire College and of the Five College board of directors. “The level of leadership she’s shown at the University of Wisconsin in both academic and administrative endeavors is remarkable, and will serve the consortium well.”

Pfatteicher says that her administrative experience has helped her appreciate just how much effort can go into keeping an organization running smoothly. “When I was a student at Smith, I rode the Five College bus, I took courses on other campuses, I borrowed books from the other campus libraries, and I was blissfully unaware that there was a consortium office with a staff that made all these things happen,” she says. “I know far better now how much work has to go on behind the scenes to keep these kinds of services and programs running smoothly, and it’s the sort of work I deeply enjoy. But I also recognize that one measure of the consortium’s success is how invisible it is to students.”

Pfatteicher succeeds Neal Abraham, who is retiring after nine years at the consortium.