Bennington College president stepping down

Bennington College president Mariko Silver addresses the class of 2016 during commencement exercises.

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BENNINGTON — Bennington College President Mariko Silver will step down in July to become president and CEO of the Henry Luce Foundation, the college announced Monday.

The college also announced that Provost and Dean of the College Isabel Roche will serve as interim president while a committee appointed by the board of trustees conducts a national search for Silver's replacement, who is expected to be named during the 2019-20 academic year.

In leading Bennington College since 2013, Silver is credited with overseeing creation of a long-term strategic plan that has included stabilizing the institution's finances, renovating and enhancing key campus structures and forging institutional partnerships that expanded opportunities for learning.

"Mariko's contributions to Bennington College have been innovative, broad, and lasting," said board Chairman Alan Kornberg in a media release. "From the establishment of creative new funding models and partnerships with some of the world's most impactful organizations, to the record student enrollment we enjoy today, Mariko has raised the profile and the long-term sustainability of the college immeasurably."

During her tenure, he said, Silver has initiated formation of "lasting partnerships with some of the world's premier arts and cultural institutions; overseen a revitalization of the campus, including the iconic Commons building; quadrupled commitments to the endowment since 2013 to $60 million, and guided the establishment of the largest capital campaign in the school's history, raising more than $90 million to date for the college overall."

"Leading Bennington is one of the greatest honors and joys of my life," Silver said. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with this dedicated faculty, staff, and board on initiatives that empower students to change the world. Bennington's future is bright and I am excited for all that is ahead for this trailblazing institution."

In leading the New York City-based foundation, Silver will oversee the independent, not-for-profit entity established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor of Time Inc. The Luce Foundation issues grants and oversees leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion, theology, art and public policy, according information on its website.

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During a phone interview Monday, Silver said that, along with the accomplishments cited by the trustees, she is proud of her efforts to expand the college's presence and involvement beyond the campus into Bennington and North Bennington.

Perhaps the most notable initiative on that score has been the school's participation as a major investor in the Putnam Block project to revitalize the former Hotel Putnam and other historic buildings around Bennington's Four Corners intersection.

That involvement in the proposed $53 million, two-phase redevelopment project will continue, she said, adding that key staff members have regularly joined her during meetings of the consortium of community organizations and local businesses that has spearheaded the Putnam Block project over the past two years.

Silver also cited Roche's close involvement in planning and implementing college programs, partnerships and initiatives during her presidency.

Roche came to Bennington College as a faculty member in 2002. She was appointed dean of the college in 2011, and provost and dean in 2015.

A scholar of French literature, she is the author of "Character and Meaning in the Novels of Victor Hugo," and has published a number of scholarly articles on the 19th-century novel and French Romanticism.