President Laura Skandera Trombley
Laura Skandera Trombley is the fifth president of Pitzer College and a nationally recognized champion of liberal arts education. Under her leadership, Pitzer has founded several visionary collegiate centers and majors, including the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability. Since Trombley became president in 2002, she has raised Pitzer’s national profile and enhanced its reputation for academic excellence. The College moved up 35 spots in U.S.News and World Report rankings—from #70 in 2004 to #35 today. In 2012, Pitzer was named the 20th most selective higher education institution in the country. Nationally, Pitzer has been the leader in Fulbright Fellowships per 1,000 students for 10 of the last 11 years and has been the top producer of Fulbright awardees among all US liberal arts colleges for four consecutive years, from 2010-2013. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Trombley to the 12-member J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. A passionate proponent of environmental sustainability, President Trombley led the initiative to construct eight mixed-use residential buildings that have earned either LEED Platinum or Gold certification. Over the past dozen years, Pitzer’s annual fund has grown by approximately 80 percent and the College’s endowment has increased by more than 170 percent. Trombley secured the four largest single donor gifts in Pitzer’s history.
Prior to joining Pitzer, President Trombley was dean of the faculty, vice president for academic affairs and a professor of English at Coe College in Iowa. She earned tenure in three years at SUNY Potsdam, where she was an associate professor of English and held several administrative posts. The daughter of an elementary school principal and a second-grade teacher, Trombley enrolled at Pepperdine University at the age of 16, receiving her BA in English and humanities and graduating summa cum laude with a master's in English. Pepperdine named her one of its Accomplished Alumni in 2002. In May 2013, Trombley received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine and delivered the commencement address for the university’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology.
Laura Skandera Trombley earned her PhD in English from the University of Southern California, where she received the Virginia Barbara Middleton Scholarship and was named the Lester and Irene Finkelstein Fellow for Outstanding Humanities Graduate Student. While working on her doctorate, she discovered the largest known cache of Mark Twain letters to date. Trombley is the author of five books. Her most recent, Mark Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years, was published by Knopf in 2010. A Southern California native, she enjoys hiking, surfing and race car driving. In 2013, she summited Mt. Whitney after hiking 190 miles on the John Muir Trail with a group of Pitzer students, faculty, alumni and family members. Her son Sparkey is in high school.