Daniel Sullivan served as the 17th president of St. Lawrence University and Professor of Sociology from 1996 until his retirement on June 30, 2009, when he was named President Emeritus. He had served previously as President and Professor of Sociology at Allegheny College (1986-96), Vice President for Planning and Development and Associate Professor of Sociology at Carleton College (1979-86), and Assistant to Associate Professor of Sociology at Carleton College (1971-79).
Foci for Dan’s research and scholarship have been science and mathematics education, public policy and institutional strategy issues in higher education, the sociology of science and medicine, and the sociology of organizations. Recent publications on higher education include: “Milton’s Areopagitica and Freedom of Speech on Campus,” Liberal Education, Vol. 92, No. 2 (2006), 56-59; "Merit and Access," Inside Higher Ed, April 19, 2007; and “The Hidden Costs of Low Four-Year Graduation Rates,” Liberal Education, Vol. 96, No. 3 (2010), 24-31.
Dan is past chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U); current Chair of the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust; past chair of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), an NSF- and Keck Foundation-funded national network of college and university faculty, deans and presidents committed to undergraduate STEM education reform, and currently a member of its advisory board (PKAL is now affiliated with AAC&U); past NAICU board member; past member and chair of the board of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania; past board member (twice) of the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities in New York; past chair of the Board of Trustees of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota; and past trustee of The Gow School, a school for dyslexic boys in South Wales, New York.
His current consulting work includes assisting colleges and independent schools on trustee and governance issues, including supporting and mentoring presidents and heads; in strategic and academic planning with a focus on liberal education; in local campus systemic change and reform of undergraduate science and mathematics education; in leadership performance appraisals; and in admissions marketing and fund raising strategies.
Dan grew up in western New York and graduated from New Brunswick High School in New Jersey. A 1965 Phi Beta Kappa mathematics graduate of St. Lawrence, Dan received the Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University where he was an Edward John Noble Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. In May of 2009 he received honorary doctorates from his alma mater and neighboring Clarkson University, and in May of 2010 from SUNY Canton. He and his wife, Ann, have three children and five grandchildren. They live in Colton, NY and in Chautauqua, NY.
As a consultant I hope to use my multi-disciplinary administrative experience to help presidents and boards solve problems that are limiting institutional success, recognizing that most problems are systemic and require adjustments in multiple areas to move an institution to a better place.
My administrative work has always been research-based and my writing reflects a career-long effort to inform institutional decision-making and public policy with evidence-based analysis. This strand of my research dates to the early 1970’s when, as a faculty member at Carleton College, colleagues and I began a program of admissions marketing research. One product of this work was a book—Larry H. Litten, Daniel Sullivan, and David Brodigan, Applying Market Research in College Admissions (New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1983)—analyzing data The College Board helped collect from high ability students and parents of such students in six large urban markets around the country. It introduced institutional researchers and planners to new ways to understand admissions market position.
As president at Allegheny and St. Lawrence, I encouraged similar research and collaborated with our institutional research folks on studies of special interest. As the assessment of student learning and other outcomes and the study of college costs became more important, my interest and collaborations moved in those directions. Examples of that work are: "Merit and Access," Inside Higher Ed, April 19, 2007; and “The Hidden Costs of Low Four-Year Graduation Rates,” Liberal Education, Vol. 96, No. 3 (2010), 24-31.
This background has led me, both as a Middle States accreditation team chair and in consulting work, to urge institutions facing key decisions to analyze and understand multiple kinds of financial and other data and to benchmark themselves against comparable institutions to assess their situations realistically.
I was most fortunate at Carleton, both as a faculty member and as Vice President for Planning and Development, to have Bob Gale, a Carleton alumnus and AGB’s founding president, as a trustee. He helped sensitize me very early in my career to the impact best practices in board governance, shared governance, and the relationship of board and president have on institutional success. As a result, I worked continually with the Allegheny and St. Lawrence boards on these issues and now very much enjoy assisting presidents at institutions with performance issues in leadership and governance.
I learned early that strategic planning must be tied closely to realistic financial planning or it will most likely be just an empty exercise. I introduced Carleton to multi-year financial planning using computer models I wrote. In 1980 my administrative portfolio came also to include development, the first of a series of leadership roles in four campaigns at three colleges that raised half a billion dollars.
In the end, teaching and liberal education are the reason I am in higher education and I want my consulting to reflect that. The non-academic and student life institutional leadership disciplines exist to serve student learning and development. I tried to become a truly multi-disciplinary leader—seeking deep understandings of admissions and aid, finances, facilities, technology, development and institutional marketing, and student life—because I believe that positive institutional change that leads to higher levels of student learning and student development is always about systemic change.