NORTHFIELD — Col. Mark Anarumo has been appointed the 24th president of Norwich University.
The announcement came at a news conference in Mack Hall at the university on Tuesday, which was packed with cadets, civilian students, faculty, staff and trustees.
Anarumo will succeed President Rich Schneider, who will retire May 31 after 28 years’ service. Anarumo will assume his duties June 1.
Anarumo has been the director for Character and Leadership Development at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado since July 2018, where he is a tenured professor and department head. The center is responsible for providing leadership and character education to the Cadet Wing of more than 4,000 officer candidates.
Alan DeForest, chairman of the NU board of trustees, welcomed the assembled and introduced Anarumo. Schneider did not address the audience, but received a standing ovation when credited by DeForest for his time and leadership at the university.
“We attracted 48 applicants and Colenol Anarumo emerged as the most capable candidate for this position,” DeForest said. “We are confident we have selected an exceptional individual who will inspire our 200-year-old university to reach even greater levels of excellence.”
DeForest also noted that in addition to his academic credentials, Anarumo also had a proven track record of active service, which included duties in the Middle East, South Korea and Eastern Europe, as well as developing a national terrorist database.
In tribute to Schneider, DeForest noted: “Norwich is unequivocally stronger as a result of his efforts and his accomplishments,” adding that Schneider helped the university raise more than $220 million during its bicentennial capital campaign last year.
DeForest also thanked the NU board of trustees and Phil Soucy, search committee chairman, and the university student body, faculty and staff, and the Northfield community for their participation in the vetting process.
“The trust and confidence they have afforded me to select me to be the president is the most honoring, and the level of humility that I’ve been experiencing, standing in front of all of you, is profound,” Anarumo said.
“President Schneider has done remarkable things for the school,” he added, noting that Norwich cadets served with distinction in all branches of the military. “You should be very proud of what Norwich is ... and I’m very, very honored to be joining the team.”
Anarumo paid tribute to the caliber of the other finalists selected by the board of trustees, adding that he would be reaching out to them to see how they could partner with the university in the future.
Anarumo fielded questions from the media, students and members of the community.
Anarumo was asked about concerns of other small, failing colleges in Vermont. He said that Norwich would remain “well-positioned” to weather future challenges in higher education, and would work hard to spread the word about the university and its offerings.
A reporter with ties to the town asked Anarumo whether he would continue to keep the close relationship between the university and the town.
“Norwich is a critical part of the success of this part of the country ... so I would do a lot to enhance Norwich’s role in perpetuating excellence in the state,” Anarumo said.
In response to a question from senior neuroscience student Olivia Bloom, Anarumo said he would work to build bonds between the Corps of Cadets and the civilian student population to ensure that “both populations augment the other” to “widen the network of Norwich graduates across all industries.”
Chinese language student Sam Sotiropoulos said he was concerned his course of study was no longer a major at the university at a time of increasing international relations and trade between America and China. He asked Anarumo what he would do to ensure the university continued its “global reach.”
Anarumo said he agreed that Chinese was “a strategic language,” along with several others, that were important for facilitating international relations, and said he would discuss the issue with the faculty and the provost.
“I do share your perspective on that,” Anarumo said.
Speaking afterward, Schneider said he was “thrilled for Norwich and for Mark,” following Anarumo’s appointment.
“I think he’s a perfect fit for the school and has a great vision of the future and understands all the challenges in higher ed, which I think is so important today.
“I feel very proud of accomplishments with our team here – they’re leaving him in a great place, great foundation to continue to build on and I’m expecting big things from him. I think he’s very smart and he a great thinker, and the fact that he’s both an academic and a military person is a perfect fit for Norwich,” Schneider added.
DeForest said it would be “tough” to say goodbye to Schneider.
“Not only has he been a tremendous president, he’s a close personal friend and a great gentleman,” DeForest said, adding that there would be farewell events and a scholarship in Schneider’s name.
During his military service, from February to May last year, Anarumo was deployed to Korea to oversee USAF transition bases established during United Nations’ efforts to open negotiations with North Korea.
From 2014 to 2018, he was a colonel and vice-wing commander of the USAF Inclirlik base in Turkey, providing executive leadership to a multinational force conducting combat operations in Syria and Iraq.
He also served as the regional defense commander and squadron commander in South Korea (2010-2014); helped build a new Homeland Security graduate program for students and government agencies at Stockton University in Pomona, New Jersey, and served as the chairman of Homeland Security and Terrorism Studies for the Department of Defense (2007-2010); and commanded squadrons in North Carolina and Kyrgyzstan (2005-2007).
Anarumo began his career with the USAF in 1994 as distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Rutgers University.
He is the father of four children.