Sierra Nevada College president resigns |

Sierra Nevada College president resigns

Erin Roth
Nevada Appeal News Service

Just 10 days before classes start at Sierra Nevada College and two days before students arrive, president Dr. Paul Ranslow and vice president of academic affairs Mary Peterson announced their resignations Friday.

“With the recent developments at Sierra Nevada College, my role as president has changed from that for which I was hired and for which I was prepared to dedicate all my energy and talent,” Ranslow said in a press release.

Peterson, a 25-year Incline resident, has held her post with the college for the past five years. She cited decreasing enrollment and a change in direction as her reasons for leaving.

“The college is pursuing a partnership (with another institution), and while it’s promising for the college, there’s always new leadership when anyone new comes in,” Peterson said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest for the current leadership to step down and allow that to happen.”

Because of a lack of endowment money, the college is no longer able to stand alone as a private college and is looking to partner with another institution, Board of Trustees Chairman John Altman said.

“There was a realization by the board of trustees that it’s difficult today in America to have a small liberal arts college survive,” Altman said. “We’re leveraging the future by looking for a strategic partnership. We needed to figure out how to keep this beautiful place going for the next 100 years.”

Ranslow’s tenure with the college began in June 2005.

Ranslow received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and spent seven years as president of Ripon College in Wisconsin. He spent more than a decade in various positions at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.

Board of trustees members said they are “deeply saddened” by Ranslow’s departure, but are looking forward to the future.

“Ultimately, this is going to be the center for environmental science, sustainability, entrepreneurship and the arts, but we can’t do this by ourselves,” Altman said. “Paul’s vision was for this to be a stand-alone college, but to do that today you need between $75 and $100 million worth of endowment.

“We just haven’t got it. We have $4 million worth of endowment.”

Peterson was formerly the state superintendent of public instruction for the state of Nevada. She said she intends to stay in the community and head back to working with an organization that provides support to the K-12 system.

As the college gears up for classes to start, Altman said it’s “business as usual” at the school.

“We can’t wait until the new students get here, although we’re saddened we don’t have more,” he said.