March 4, 2019 – Koya Leadership Partners has placed Brett I. Last as the new chief human resources officer (CHRO) of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He succeeds Barbara Beck, who retired last year after serving the college for 21 years.Managing director Andy Evans, vice president Beth Schaefer and consultant Charlotte Harris led the search.
“Brett Last brings to Skidmore a unique professional background that combines human resources leadership with the practice of employment and labor law in higher education and industry,” said Donna Ng, Skidmore’s vice president for finance and administration and treasurer. “Throughout his impressive career, he has demonstrated adaptability, agility and creativity in the field of human resources. Brett’s detailed understanding of human resources in a higher education setting will strengthen Skidmore moving forward.”
“We are very happy to welcome Brett Last to Skidmore,” said president Philip A. Glotzbach. “Our faculty and staff are essential to fulfilling our liberal arts mission. Brett’s expertise and leadership will support and encourage institutional excellence, diversity and inclusion at Skidmore.”
Mr. Last joins Skidmore from Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA, where he served as executive director of human resources and interim Title IX coordinator. He formerly held several senior positions, including executive director of human resources at Olympus Corporation of the Americas in Center Valley, PA. He also practiced employment and labor law in New Jersey.
In his new role, Mr. Last will oversee all aspects of human resources across the college, which has more than 1,100 employees. “I was energized by my visit to campus, and I enjoyed my discussions with members of the Skidmore community,” said Mr. Last. “I was especially moved by the enthusiasm and pride of college employees. I look forward to working with the human resources team and collaborating with all members of the campus community.”
Founded in 1903 and located on a 1,000-acre campus, Skidmore College is a private coeducational, liberal arts college. With a diverse student body of 2,500 from 44 states and territories and 67 countries (25 percent are domestic students of color, 10 percent are international, and 14 percent are the first in their families to attend college) and a faculty of 300 dedicated teacher-scholars, Skidmore offers 43 majors in the humanities, sciences, arts and social sciences, as well as in career-specific fields such as business and education.
Leading Search Firm
Boston-based Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. This year, the firm was again recognized by Hunt Scanlon Media as one of the top 50 search firms in the Americas.
A hallmark of Koya’s education practice is the range of institutions with which it has partnered: private and public; selective liberal arts colleges, large research universities, and academic medical centers; mission-driven, faith-based; rising and established. The practice’s recruiters have backgrounds that include decades of experience in academic budget and administration, finance and administration, executive education, student affairs, international programs, human resources and academic work in the fields of philosophy and biological sciences, in higher education, non-profit and private sectors.
An Up-Close Look at the Transformational Role of the CHRO
The HR role has transitioned tremendously over the past 20 years, as the function has gained in stature and prominence. But evolution in such a role does not necessarily come about by major changes and careful planning for the future.
Mr. Evans’ primary practice is leading executive searches for both academic and financial leaders at colleges and universities, research institutes and other subsidiary organizations. Prior to his career in executive search, he held senior leadership positions in higher education at Tufts University and Oberlin College. He also served as CFO at Wellesley College.
Mr. Evans joined Koya from Neumann Executive Search Partners when the two firms merged. He has led searches at Barnard College, University of Southern Maine, Northeastern University, Oberlin College, Pine Manor College, College of New Jersey, University of New Hampshire, Brandeis University, Simmons College, Trinity College, Colby-Sawyer College, Dartmouth College, Rice University, the Medical Center Company (Case Western Reserve University), Boston University, Pomona College and Swarthmore College.
Ms. Schaefer has 20 years of corporate experience in human resources roles and over a decade of search experience in the corporate and higher education arenas. At Koya, she specializes in searches for senior leadership in human resources, diversity and inclusion, financial management, enrollment management, institutional research and other areas of higher education administration.
Ms. Schaefer has led searches for Simmons College, Emory University, Boston College, Ithaca College, Vanderbilt University, Wellesley College, University of North Carolina, Wayne State University and the University of Washington. Prior to joining Koya, she spent five years with Neumann Executive Search Partners.
Ms. Harris provides search operations and logistics support for Koya’s Higher Education team. Previously, she was as a key member of the administrative team at Lois L. Lindauer Searches, an executive search firm in Boston.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media