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Utica University selects Pfannestiel as its next president

By Traci DeLore (


Todd Pfannestiel
Todd Pfannestiel, current provost and senior VP for academic affairs at Utica University, will become the institution’s 10th president this August. (Photo credit: Utica University)

UTICA, N.Y. — Utica University’s board of trustees has chosen Todd Pfannestiel as the university’s next president, effective Aug. 1.

As the institution’s 10th president, he succeeds Laura Casamento, who retires July 31 after seven years in the role.

Pfannestiel has 25 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member, school dean, and senior administrator. As provost and senior VP at Utica University, he led and collaborated closely with faculty on various initiatives to raise the academic profile of the university. The redesign of the university’s general-education curriculum and the launch of academic programs to address emerging workforce and societal needs are among his accomplishments.

Robert Brvenik, board chairperson, said the board’s primary goal during its search was to find a leader with the vision, knowledge, and experience to lead the university forward as a rising center of innovation and excellence in higher education.

“I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that we have succeeded in this quest by securing Dr. Pfannestiel as a leader of the highest caliber — one who is ready and eager to guide this institution to greater heights and meet the challenges of the coming decade,” Brvenik said in a release.

Before joining Utica University, Pfannestiel served on the faculty of Clarion University of Pennsylvania for 20 years. He also served as dean of the College of Arts, Education, and Sciences; interim provost; and acting president.

He holds a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary, completed post-graduate studies at Duke University as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow in economics, and received a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from the University of Arkansas as a Fulbright college scholar.

“Utica University’s future as a leader in higher education and an influential contributor in the region continues to grow,” Pfannestiel said in the release. “As with many universities, we face challenges which together we will address head-on with the same spirit that has become a hallmark at Utica.”

One of the challenges Utica University recently faced was backlash regarding an academic-profile review that led to the recommendation to sunset 15 majors. The Utica Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP Utica/AFT 6786) started a petition and held a rally to oppose the changes. On Feb. 16, the university’s board voted to sunset 13 of those 15 majors, while keeping two.