Jill Tiefenthaler, Colorado College

When Jill Tiefenthaler left her family’s Iowa farm for St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., it was a transformative experience.

“We took trips to New York, and saw live dance, music and theater performances. We went to art museums, and I decided I never wanted to leave college,” Tiefenthaler said.

In a way, she never did. After earning her undergraduate degree in economics, she went on to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees from Duke University, focusing on the economics of education. The plan was to teach, and she did. She became a professor at Colgate University.

Moving on to become a college administrator wasn’t in the plan, but she welcomed it when the opportunity arose. After a stint as associate dean and senior advisor to the president at Colgate, Wake Forest University came calling and named her provost and professor of economics.

While there, she burnished her reputation as a leading economics scholar, publishing articles on the economics of the family, liberal arts education and cross-cultures.

Tiefenthaler took over as president of Colorado College in July 2011. Her plan for the first year was to listen and learn. And what she’s gained is an even greater awe and respect for the school’s unique offerings and place in liberal arts education in the U.S.

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“We don’t offer professional degrees here, but I know first-hand the value of liberal arts education,” said Tiefenthaler. “Part of my job is to help others, particularly employers, see that value in our students.”