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Grinnell historian named St. Olaf provost

By David Gonnerman '90
April 29, 2011

St. Olaf College President David R. Anderson '74 has announced the appointment of Marci Sortor as provost and dean of the college. Sortor succeeds James M. May, who has served in that capacity since 2002 and is returning to full-time teaching with the classics faculty. The provost is the chief academic officer, overseeing all academic programs and the five faculties of the college.

"Marci Sortor powerfully combines a career as a teacher and scholar with a record of successful academic leadership at a fine liberal arts college," says Anderson in announcing the appointment. "I welcome her commitment to St. Olaf's deepest values and look forward to the energy and new ideas she will bring to the college."

Sortor is vice president for institutional planning and acting vice president for college and alumni relations at Grinnell College. In institutional planning, she works with campus constituents on budget planning, campus and facilities planning, and the implementation of the Grinnell strategic plan. The directors of community enhancement, facilities management, and the Faulconer art gallery report to her.

A professor of history at Grinnell, Sortor joined the office of the vice president of academic affairs in 2002 as an associate dean and continues as associate dean in helping to implement the Expanding Knowledge Initiative, the academic element of the strategic plan. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she occasionally teaches history courses and continues her scholarly research on immigration, the market economy, and social networks in late medieval cities. Prior to joining the history faculty in 1989 she was a teaching and research fellow at Stanford University.

A scholar of European history and medieval studies, Sortor earned the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from University of California, San Diego.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or