Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 10, 2024

College of the Atlantic names president to succeed Darron Collins

Woman in a green sweater Photo Courtesy / College of the Atlantic Sylvia Torti is a writer, ecologist and academic leader with 15 years of experience in higher education. 

College of the Atlantic’s seventh president will be Sylvia Torti, a writer, ecologist and innovative academic leader with 15 years of experience in higher education. 

She will assume her role at the Bar Harbor school in July, succeeding Darron Collins upon his retirement at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. 

“I believe so deeply in COA’s mission and I am honored and thrilled to join this dynamic community,” said Torti. “COA is already a leader in higher education because of its successful and inspiring commitment to a dialogical, ecologically based education, an approach that I believe will become increasingly important in the years to come.

"COA is a bold place where people acknowledge cooperation and conflict and strive to understand how and why those behaviors manifest. I think the founders were so right to create a school where we can use what we know about these dimensions of human nature to find solutions to both small and big problems."

Most recently, Torti served for 11 years as dean of the Honors College at the University of Utah, a liberal arts college. During her time as dean, she tripled the diversity of the student body and increased the number of out-of-state students. She also created an office to mentor nationally competitive scholarship recipients and began a globally oriented curriculum in ecology, health and human rights. 

Torti, who is from a bicultural background and has lived and worked internationally, is passionate about experiential, interdisciplinary learning, shared governance and the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

Previously, Torti served as the director of the University of Utah’s remote Bonderman Field Station. There, she led its work serving faculty and students in natural sciences, architecture, engineering and other fields.

Tort holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah School of Biological Sciences and is a graduate of Earlham College.

“Dr. Sylvia Torti is the perfect person to carry the College of the Atlantic into its second half-century. Her intellectual curiosity, natural leadership, incredible creativity, passion for the human experience, and ability to connect with others on a deep, personal level will allow her to inspire, energize, and uplift all members of the COA community,” said Beth Gardiner, chair of the COA board of trustees.

About Darron Collins' tenure

Collins was the first COA graduate in its 55-year history to serve as president. During his 13 years at the college, he led the completion of two capital campaigns raising a total of nearly $90 million, oversaw the construction of an academic building and a student residence, and helped the school increase enrollment to its goal of 350 students.

“I feel enormously fortunate to follow President Darron Collins,” said Torti. “While I was on campus, it was clear to me that his consistent and passionate leadership has contributed to a highly engaged faculty, staff, and student body and raised the school’s national profile. I look forward to building on his many successes.”

Among the largest colleges and universities in Maine, College of the Atlantic was ranked No. 22 in the 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists, based on a full-time undergraduate enrollment of 342 in fall 2023.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF