Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2018

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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Page 39 of 47

A GOAL FULFILLED { } 38 PIERCE FALL / WINTER 2018 O n New Year's Day 2017, Dr. Karen M. Scolforo '98 took to her journal to write out her goals for the coming year. In between proclamations about running another half marathon and mastering 50 acoustic guitar songs, the 53-year-old president of Central Penn College in Summerdale, Pa., recorded that she someday wanted to head a college in New England, ideally in Vermont. From the outside, Scolforo's dream may have seemed curious. In 2016, she was honored as a Woman of Excellence by the YWCA and received the prestigious Luminary Visionary Award by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and would go on to be named the 2017 CenturyLink Business Woman of the Year. But Scolforo, who grew up in North Attleboro, Mass., knew that eventually she would move back to New England. She wanted to be closer to her aging mother, who still resided near her hometown, and her kids, who were sprinkled around the region. Four months aer making her journal entry, Scolforo discovered that Castleton University, a public university of 1,900 students on the western edge of Vermont, was searching for a new president. She soul-searched over the timing of the change, but the university offered everything she was looking for. at September, Scolforo was tapped from a pool of 50 candidates to lead the school. "I loved the idea of working for a public institution," said Scolforo, who holds a Doctorate of Education with a cognate in higher education administration and finance from the University of North Florida. "I've always been drawn to Vermont and this school has a wonderful tradition. I had never worked at a public institution before, and I had no experience working with unions, but I love a challenge." In fall 1981, Scolforo tried her hand at a nursing program, but it didn't take. "I couldn't stand the sight of blood," she recalled with a laugh. Instead, she turned to business and was selected for a management training program with Toys"R"Us. As she would at later times in her career, Scolforo quickly climbed the ranks. At the age of 22, Scolforo had a supervisory role and had helped lead the large toy retailer in its opening of five new stores in the Carolinas. By the late 1980s she was a national marketing director for another national firm. But by 1994, she was married and the mother of three young children she didn't see nearly as much as she wanted to. "I wanted to be home at night and cook dinner for my family," said Scolforo. "As I began to think about what I wanted to do next with my life, being in education and being a teacher made the most sense." In Franklin Pierce, Scolforo found a university that generously credited her past schooling and easily catered to her schedule of being a working mother. "I looked young then," she said. "I had long hair and braces and when I had my kids with me at school people thought I was the babysitter. But the thing about Franklin Pierce is that they made things so accommodating. One of my favorite things about [the University] was that they did such a good job of hiring faculty who had not only strong teaching credentials but also valuable real-world experience. ey could draw from their experience and keep us engaged. I never missed a class. I remember driving through a blizzard to get to one class in Salem. at's how valuable those classes were to me." She laughed. "I was willing to risk my life! I wanted an excellent education and I got that. ey adapted to my unique background and made the classes so accessible. I think about those things a lot now as a [university] president." BY IAN ALDRICH Karen M. Scolforo '98 Returns to New England and Takes the Lead at Castleton University { } a goal fulfilled

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