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Friday, January 10, 2014

Champlain College Announces New President

Posted By on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 12:16 PM

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Today, the Champlain College board of trustees announced that Donald Laackman will be replacing David Finney as the school’s president. Since March 2011, Laackman (pronounced “Lock-man”) has served as president of Harold Washington College, one of Chicago’s city colleges.

“I cannot think of a person who could better embody Champlain College's ‘radically pragmatic’ approach to higher education,” said Mary Powell, chair of the board of trustees, in an announcement to students, faculty and staff in the college’s Alumni Auditorium this morning. “Don's extensive business experience will help further Champlain's work in providing an outstanding academic experience that is directly connected to developing high-functioning members of society.”

Prior to serving as president of Harold Washington, Laackman (pictured) was a principal at the Chicago-based Civic Consulting Alliance and a managing director at Accenture, a global technology consulting and outsourcing firm. He received a bachelor’s degree and master's in public policy from the University of Chicago. His wife, Allyson Laackman, is vice president and CFO at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. They have two kids. 

“Higher education is at a crossroads, with many families questioning the value of a college degree," the president-elect said at his formal introduction today. "Champlain College's approach to education is rewriting the rules. Champlain prepares students for careers today while giving them the skills to adapt to a rapidly changing job market. I am excited by the opportunity to lead this entrepreneurial, innovative college and to deliver on the promise of higher education to transform students’ lives."

Powell also expressed her gratitude to Finney, who became the school’s seventh president in 2005 and will retire on June 30. Finney added his own endorsement today, citing “the skills, depth of experience and leadership Don Laackman brings to Champlain.” Finney said his "decision to retire after nine years stems from my belief that the college has much to gain from the energy and vision that will accompany a new president.”

With the help of executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, the board began its national search for Finney’s replacement last April. A committee of trustees, faculty, staff and students vetted more than 100 candidates for the job.

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Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

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Charles Eichacker was a staff writer for Seven Days.

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