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Off and running: Sarah Mangelsdorf sets her own presidential tone

For nearly three months now, the new president of the University of Rochester—who will be formally invested in her role at her October 4 inauguration—has been getting acquainted with the University, and one of her consistent themes is her intention to remain a curious, visible, and accessible leader. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Also coming this week: A Q&A with Sarah Mangelsdorf; Emmy Award–winning composer Jeff Beal ’85E on his composition “The Pathway,” to be premiered at the October 4 presidential inauguration; and a profile of Karl Rosengren, a professor in the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences as well as Psychology, and the husband of Mangelsdorf.

On her first day as president last July 1, Sarah Mangelsdorf began what she called “a listening and learning tour.”

It started around daybreak, when Mangelsdorf, an avid runner, rose for a jog through the historic Mount Hope Cemetery.

Over the next few days came visits to the University’s physical facilities that took her across quads, through libraries and high-tech medical facilities, construction sites, the University power plant, and deep into the painted tunnels of River Campus.

Please join us to celebrate the inauguration of Sarah C. Mangelsdorf as the University of Rochester’s 11th president.

Inauguration ceremony: 2:30 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

Register online

Watch the livestream

For nearly three months now, the new president of the University of Rochester—who will be formally invested in her role at her October 4 inauguration—has been getting acquainted with University and civic leaders, staff, community organizations, local media, students, parents, and alumni around the country.

One of her consistent themes is her intention to remain a curious, visible, and accessible leader.

“My plan is to spend as much time as possible out of my office and in the community,” she wrote in August, in a guest essay in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

It’s a difficult, but important, task. The demands on university presidents have long been significant. But modern presidents also face increased expectations on the part of students, staff, and community leaders that their presidents are present, available, and understand their needs.

Mangelsdorf is among a small cohort of new presidents in higher education who have harnessed the power of Instagram to help convey that message.

For her, it’s not about photo opportunities, but sharing snapshots, along with her own thoughts and reflections, that demonstrate to her followers that she is not only showing up, but also continually learning and making meaningful connections. On her Instagram feed at @urochestermangelsdorf she’s shown the breadth of her listening and learning tour, as well as, she hopes, its depth.

“I don’t like to just make appearances,” she says. “I like to get to know people.”

collage of images for President Mangelsdorf's Instagram account
Follow President Mangelsdorf on Instragram at @urochestermangelsdorf.

Mangelsdorf, a developmental psychologist with a significant research portfolio, is known for her collaborative and inclusive approach to leadership. The arrival of such a president is a reflection of the search process that brought her here.

Trustees Cathy Minehan ’68 and Danny Wegman led a search committee that developed a job description based on numerous town halls with faculty, staff, and students, as well as a University-wide survey seeking  the characteristics community members wanted in the next president. Faculty, staff, and student advisory committees were integrated into the search process as well.

Mangelsdorf has earned recognition for her leadership roles with each of those constituencies throughout her career.

As the former provost of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she comes with sterling credentials as a manager of large and complex institutions, and a deep understanding of how to help advance a university’s research mission across disciplines. She has also been a recognized leader in fostering institutional diversity and inclusion, and access and affordability for undergraduate students in particular.

And faculty can claim her as one of their own. Mangelsdorf, a self-described “third-generation academic,” continues to embrace her role as a faculty member and comes with an appointment as a professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. So, too, does her husband, fellow developmental psychologist Karl Rosengren, who has a joint appointment with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

As she and her family were introduced to the University community last winter, Mangelsdorf reiterated her belief that “higher education should and does change people’s lives.” And she made clear that she looked forward “to working collaboratively with all of you to help us reach our goals.”

Sarah Walters, a doctoral candidate in optics who participated in the search and hiring process, summed up the mood last December, when the University community was introduced to Mangelsdorf for the first time.

“She’ll be all in and 100 percent invested,” said Walters. “She’ll pour her heart and soul into this University.”

Read more

close-up of the mace engraved with the names of past presidents including new president Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
A ceremonial start
“For generations, three ritual objects—the charter, the seal, and the mace—have been the centerpiece of the presidential inaugural ceremony.
close up of a smartphone
‘A bit like the first day of school’
President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf jumped right in early Monday morning with a two-hour tour of parts of the River Campus.
Sarah Mangelsdorf speaks to students
New president Sarah Mangelsdorf receives high praise from students, staff, faculty
After a search process designed to include as many voices as possible, Sarah Mangelsdorf enjoys broad and deep support as she prepares to take the helm.



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