RH Perry & Associates Places President for Sterling College in Vermont

April 27, 2023 – RH Perry & Associates has placed Scott L. Thomas, dean of the College of Education at the University of Wyoming, as the next president of Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT. Senior consultant Kathy Krendl led the assignment. Dr. Thomas will begin his new role on July 1.

Lori Collins-Hall, who has been serving as interim president of the college since late 2021, will return to her role as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Dr. Thomas brings more than 25 years of teaching and leadership experience at private and public institutions. A first-generation college student, he has devoted his career to advancing programs and policies to expand access to quality college opportunities, ensure student success, and build diverse organizations.

“The college selected Dr. Thomas from a robust national pool that reflected vast experience and expertise,” said Wendy Koenig, secretary of the board and chair of the presidential search committee. “Among all of the candidates, Dr. Thomas was the clear choice, having a nuanced understanding of higher education and the eco-social crises at play, as well as the critical intersection of the two. His mission alignment, commitment to data-informed strategies, and strong belief in competency-based education make him the ideal choice for Sterling at this moment.”

A lifelong educator and an advocate for our environment and outdoor education, Dr. Thomas’ leadership experience includes large-scale strategic planning, financial management, student success, government and community relations, fundraising, and enrollment management. He has direct experience with more than a dozen regional and national accrediting agencies. His data-driven approach to strategic planning and continuous improvement has been commended by accreditors at several institutions and held up as an exemplar nationally, said Sterling College.

Strong Experience

Dr. Thomas’ work in Hawaii, California, Wyoming, and Vermont has given rise to innovative programs supporting rural communities, world-class competency-based learning, college and career pathways programs in dozens of rural high schools, and strengthened relations and knowledge exchange with the indigenous communities in these regions. Hallmarks of his work, said Sterling College, include community-engaged programming, deliberate international partnerships, and program development emphasizing indigeneity, place-based, and experiential education.

Dr. Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in educational policy, leadership, and research methods from the University of California, Santa Barbara. “An avid surfer, Nordic skier, and outdoor adventurer, Dr. Thomas has led a life exploring and engaging with environments and cultures around the world,” said the college. “He understands firsthand the importance of place-based experiences, that scale matters, and has learned to hold deep respect for indigenous ways of knowing.”

Related: RH Perry & Associates Assists Erie County Community College in President Search

“I have long admired the ways in which Sterling is steadfast to its mission; it has a special history that reflects its commitment to dynamic and engaging learning environments,” said Dr. Thomas. “I was stopped in my tracks upon seeing the job posting, was further inspired by my conversations with Sterling alumnx and current students, and am deeply honored to be invited into Sterling’s story.”

RH Perry & Associates Recruits CFO for California State University Stanislaus
RH Perry & Associates has assisted in the recruitment of Christene James as the new vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer of California State University Stanislaus in Turlock. Leading the assignment were Sue DeWine, senior consultant, and Paul G. Doeg, president and chief operating officer. “Ms. James is a highly resourceful senior leader with experience directing growth and leading operational excellence,” said Ellen Junn, president of the school. “She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education and has worked in various roles and with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community stakeholders.”

Founded in 1958, Sterling College says its mission is to “advance ecological thinking and action through affordable experiential learning that prepares people to be knowledgeable, skilled, and responsible leaders in the communities in which they live.” The college uses education as a force to address critical ecological problems caused by unlimited growth and consumption that is destroying the planet as we have known it. Sterling College offers two interdisciplinary degrees: a two-year associate of arts degree, and a four-year bachelor of arts degree, both in environmental studies. Learning at Sterling is deeply personalized, outdoor-oriented, community-centered, and rooted in doing. Students earn credit and gain expertise through engagement and growth in courses, work, experiential endeavors, and seminars.

Higher Education Search

Established in 1974, RH Perry & Associates offers strong credentials and experience in academic executive search, having successfully completed well over 1,000 searches in its history. Serving both two-year and four-year institutions, the firm’s higher education practice consists of senior-level executives with a well-balanced mix of college and university presidential and senior administrative experience and executive search expertise. Headquartered in Ashville, NC, RH Perry’s consultants maintain offices in Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

Dr. Krendl joined RH Perry & Associates in 2018 after 37 years in higher education as a faculty member and administrator. She has served both large public research universities as well as small independent institutions in leadership roles as dean, provost, executive vice president, and president. Her expertise focuses on strategic planning, enrollment management, and leadership development.

Related: RH Perry & Associates Recruits President for Onondaga Community College

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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