Jonathan Larsen, who guided the Sterling College Board of Trustees during a period of astonishing growth and momentum, has stepped down as chair of the governing body but will continue to serve on the Board of Trustees. The College will honor him for his outstanding service as Chair.
“Jon’s leadership and support at a crucial time in the College’s history has put Sterling on track to be a bigger and more innovative College, while remaining true to its environmental mission and core values,” says President Matthew Derr. “His counsel and wisdom has been a true gift to Sterling College and to me personally, as well as professionally. He was exactly the right person to lead the board at a critical time in our history.”
Larsen joined the Sterling College Board of Trustees in 2010. In 2011, he became Secretary, and in 2013, was elected to serve as the Chair. His term as Chair was due to expire in 2016, but he was persuaded to continue for the full 2016-2017 academic year. He serves as Chair until June 30, 2017.
Larsen says that the lasting success of Sterling College has been the most gratifying aspect of his tenure as Chair.
“The past few years have been a time of renewal and advancement for Sterling College, as the rest of the world learns what I’ve known for some years—that Sterling is a pioneering institution,” he says. “As Sterling heads into its 60th year, I look forward to even more success for Sterling as it shapes the next generation of environmental stewards.”
He continued, “I have been concerned about climate change and global warming for decades. I joined the Board of Trustees at Sterling College because I felt it was reshaping humanity’s relationship with the natural world, and authentically focused on environmental stewardship.”
Some of the accomplishments of Sterling College that were achieved during Larsen’s tenure include:
- Sterling College earned a full, ten-year accreditation renewal by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This is only the second such review in Sterling’s history as a four-year college.
- The launch of Nourish the Roots, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Sterling’s history. The comprehensive campaign surpassed its initial goal of $9 million and has raised its funding goal to $10 million.
- As part of the Nourish the Roots campaign, Sterling College received its first seven-figure gift from an anonymous donor in September of 2014, to be matched by donations from alumni and friends of the College. The $2 million challenge was met four months ahead of schedule.
- Expansion of the faculty from nine full-time members to 13. The campus also expanded to include the Alfond Draft Horse barn, Common House, the Parsonage, and Cedar Cottage.
- Record-breaking entering classes for the past three years, taking the College from a student body of less than 90 students to 140 undergraduate students and approximately 240 continuing education students.
- Sterling has been recognized in national rankings, including #1 for sustainable food and dining by the Real Food Challenge, Sierra magazine, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE); #3 for sustainability-based curriculum by both Sierra magazine and AASHE; and #4 for sustainability efforts by a college in North America by AASHE.
- The launch of the School of the New American Farmstead, the continuing education program of Sterling College that offers courses for agrarians, culinarians, entrepreneurs, and lifelong learners.
Larsen holds a B.A. and an M.A.T from Harvard, and worked for several years as a correspondent and an editor at Time Magazine. In 1970 and 1971 he served as the magazine’s Saigon bureau chief, covering, among other things, the disintegration of the U.S. Army and the corruption of the South Vietnamese government. From 1974–1978 he was the editor of New Times magazine. He was named a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and followed that up with the editor’s position at Village Voice in the early ’90s.
He has served on the boards of Yestermorrow and Cambridge College, and is on the board of the Larsen Fund. He served on the Natural Resources Defense Council for over 20 years. On the Cambridge College Board, in Massachusetts, he served for 30 years, six years as chairman. For many years, Larsen judged for the John Oakes Award, a recognition given for environmental journalism. He resides part-time in a net-zero house in Moretown, VT. He is currently working on a memoir.
Succeeding Larsen as Chair on July 1, 2017, is Pete Chehayl. Chehayl is the parent of alumnus Daniel Chehayl ’06, and has been on the Board of Trustees since 2005. He graduated from Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) with a BS in Management Science in 1970. After receiving his MBA from the University of Michigan, he enjoyed a 30-year career in financial positions, culminating as chief financial officer of Centennial Communications, a $700 million company. He has also worked at Coopers & Lybrand, The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, and the Sprint Corporation. He is a CPA.
Chehayl also served on the board of directors of Madison River Communications, a $200 million rural local telephone company until its acquisition by Century Tel in April 2007. He has also served on the boards of the National Hemophilia Foundation and the Kansas City Institute of Art. While Naples, FL is their primary residence, Chehayl and his wife, Liz, have a home in Albany, Vermont.
Chehayl says, “I’m so appreciative of Jon’s dedication to Sterling College. He has been an absolutely superb Chair of the Board of Trustees. The outstanding work he has done is going to make my job easier.”