When he looks ten years into the future, David Caruso sees an Antioch University New England that builds on its rich history, but is markedly different in many important ways from the one of today. By 2016, Caruso sees a much broader national and international reach, attracting top-tier students to leading-edge academic departments that offer more certificate and degree programs and utilize the latest information technology resources to support teaching and learning. Caruso is confident he can begin to lay the foundation for his vision soon after he assumes ANE’s top post in July.
The way he sees it, leading an institution of higher learning boils down to a handful of essential skills: fund-raising, strategic planning, budgeting, financial management, and consensus-building. Caruso’s vita shows considerable experience in all those areas-particularly with sixteen years of administrative know-how ranging from department chair to vice president of academic affairs.
“David’s long, varied experience and his focused and dedicated academic career strike a very positive balance,” said Leatrice Oram, ANE’s admissions director and a member of the selection committee that chose Caruso in April.
Caruso’s professional career spans both academic instruction and management. He spent more than ten years as a teacher and administrator in early childhood development while pursuing a master’s degree (Sonoma State University) and a doctorate (Cornell University) in the same field.
After completing his own education, Caruso spent the next several years as a professor at Indiana State University, Purdue University, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Hartford. At his most recent institution, Worcester State College, he started as vice president for academic affairs in 2002.
“I think my experience at Worcester State has given me the opportunity to develop what I believe is a very important portfolio of professional skills, knowledge, and experience that will contribute to a successful presidency at ANE,” Caruso said. “A big piece of that was in development and fundraising.”
“Effective fundraising rests upon building relationships. As president, I plan to play a key role in representing Antioch New England—being the face and voice of the institution—to develop and nurture relationships with key donors who value ANE’s mission.”
Caruso also plans to step back and let other ANE stakeholders tell the institution’s story and aspirations from their perspective. “Bringing faculty on board and having them play an important role in fundraising activities is really critical.”
Caruso will give faculty members, department heads, and dean of academic affairs broad latitude in determining the goals and trajectory of each of the departments. Among his first initiatives as president will be to launch a “thoughtful, inclusive, and comprehensive” planning process to assess the strengths and challenges of each academic department, identify areas of improvement, and devise strategies to implement those improvements.
Caruso plans to be just one voice in a collaborative, campus-wide process to determine “what data is important, what evidence is important, and how that evidence is interpreted.”
One priority Caruso will lobby hard for is improving ANE’s information technology in all areas-academic and administrative. “In both hardware and software, I think there’s a pretty critical need to move ANE up several notches in the capabilities of its information technology to support the teaching, learning, and institutional effectiveness.”
When he needs a break from the demands of academe, Caruso sings tenor in a community chorus near his home in Northampton, Massachusetts, or blows a jazz riff through a trumpet. He is an avid reader; his nightstand is currently occupied by Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a collection of stories by fantasy/science fiction writer Orson Scott Card. His favorite pastime, though, is spending time with his family: his wife Sara, his five children, thirteen to thirty-eight years old, and his four grandchildren, one only recently born.
But these days, most of his waking hours are spent looking toward the future of Antioch University New England. “I’m very excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to get started.”