After months of searching, Carleton College has chosen a prolific fundraiser and expert on the role of technology in higher education as its next president.

Alison Byerly will take the helm of the Northfield private liberal arts college with about 2,000 students on Aug. 1. She succeeds longtime Carleton President Steven Poskanzer, who will step down in July and return to the school as a political science faculty member following a sabbatical.

Byerly will be tasked with leading the school out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended college life and budgets. She also will likely face pressure from some Carleton students who have expressed frustration over the college's response to alleged instances of racism and discrimination on campus.

Byerly served as president of Lafayette College, a small, selective liberal arts school in Easton, Pa., for the past eight years. There she launched a decadelong effort to double the college's financial aid budget. She also led Lafayette's largest fundraising effort, raising $426 million, and opened a new integrated sciences center that was the largest capital project in the college's history.

"President Byerly is an innovative leader with stellar academic credentials and a deep admiration for the liberal arts," Wally Weitz, chairman of Carleton's board of trustees, said in a statement.

Before leading Lafayette, Byerly was the provost at Middlebury College in Vermont. She holds three English degrees and served as a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of Oxford.

She also has written extensively about the role of technology in higher education, a pressing focus for colleges across the country.

Byerly is married and has two children, one of whom is a Carleton graduate.

"The great respect and admiration I have always felt for Carleton as one of the country's finest liberal arts colleges has been deepened in recent years by my personal experience as a Carleton parent," Byerly said in a statement.

Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234