Nancy Roseman likely has a few more apology letters to write before she settles in as the first female president in Dickinson College's 229-year history.
She may even have to make amends for the “white lies” she told friends so she could skip dinner invitations and golf tee-times, as well as the evasive answers she gave as to her recent whereabouts.
“I kept (my candidacy for Dickinson College president) very close,” said Roseman, the former dean at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. “It’s a confidential process and, frankly, with the Internet today and the ability for word to spread like wildfire, I kept it very close.”
Still, it didn’t stop friends and family members from asking, “what’s going on? What are you up to?,” she said during a news conference at Dickinson College Thursday.
“When news finally came out, a lot of my friends received messages of apology for the evasive answers. There were so many of those looks of suspicion,” Roseman said.
Now, everyone can relax.
Everyone except Roseman, who will replace the retiring William Durden on July 1 to become the college’s 28th president.
“I don’t think that I’ve caught my breath enough. It’s been quite a whirlwind,” Roseman said. “I have a number of friends who are presidents at various institutions, and I know I felt that this would be a situation where this can work. There are a lot of people who can be college presidents but every institution has its exact needs and you have to find the person that makes sense for you at the moment.”
Roseman served as dean at Williams College for seven years and as the assistant to the president for special projects. Most recently she was the director of the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University.
Roseman, 53, and a native of New Brunswick, N.J., joined Williams in 1991 as a professor of biology.
As dean, she reported to the president as a member of senior staff and served on a number of governance committees, according to an earlier news release from Dickinson College.
“(Roseman) is certainly well prepared for this position, with her great experience in teaching, research and administration, including as dean of the college and director of the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford,” Adam Falk, president of Williams College, said in a statement. “She is also steeped in faculty governance, having served on a variety of committees, including the Faculty Steering Committee, and Committee on Educational Policy. As much as we’ll miss her here at Williams, I’m absolutely delighted for Nancy Roseman and for Dickinson.”
When Durden announced in January that he was retiring, Dickinson hired a search firm and formed a committee to help find his replacement.
“The first thing that got me was reading the description on the college’s website,” Roseman said. “(Then), you get these calls from the search firm, and they know me, and they said they really think this would be a good fit for me and a good fit for the institution.”
As the process approached the finish, Roseman quietly visited Carlisle in September.
She said she went to the local farmer’s market where residents, none of them knowing who she was, were very friendly.
And, Roseman said, the school’s philosophy also made a difference.
“Dickinson’s approach to the liberal arts – that was a hook,” she said. “The hook was set and everything I read and everything I learned resonated.”
Last week, Roseman and Princeton College executive vice president Mark Burstein were identified as the two finalists to visit the campus.
Burstein told the Daily Princetonian that “the visit ... reminded me of how much I enjoy Princeton, so I decided to remove myself from the search.”
Jennifer Ward, chair of the college board of trustees said Roseman’s selection was unanimous by the board and Ward was confident in Roseman’s abilities to build on the achievements of the past 14 years under Durden.
Roseman said she’s looking forward to her new job.
“I’m just so excited,” Roseman said. “This is really a great school, and they wanted to have someone who will make it greater. I think it’s really important to absorb its ethos, its traditions, its values. I just felt so comfortable and at home. I can’t wait.”