Donald J. Laackman Begins as Champlain College's Eighth President

Dave Finney and Don Laackman

BURLINGTON, VT (July 1, 2014)  -- Donald J. Laackman officially begins his tenure today as the eighth president of Champlain College, succeeding David F. Finney, who retired June 30 after nine years.

Laackman was appointed president-elect in December 2013 by the Champlain College Board of Trustees and has been working with the transition team meeting faculty, staff and students throughout the spring.
In a brief, informal ceremony in the President's office, (pictured at left) outgoing President Finney handed over the keys to the College to Laackman on June 30, officially marking the start of the new leadership era.
"The Champlain community - the board, faculty, staff and students - have been so welcoming during the transition. I send special thanks to Dave Finney and the president's cabinet for their help over the past six months. I am excited to lead Champlain College into the next phase of its development toward the goal of becoming the finest small, professionally and globally focused college in the United States," he added.
Described as an exceptional leader in workforce development and education, Laackman's background encompasses higher education, economic development, information technology, strategy development, operations and large-scale organizational transformation. His background in the business, higher education and non-profit sectors uniquely positions him to strengthen the competitive advantage Champlain College has established through its innovative model of higher learning that blends career-focused education with interdisciplinary liberal study to give students the skills to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.
Laackman comes to Champlain College from Harold Washington College, in Chicago, where he served as president since 2011. During his tenure at Harold Washington College, Laackman played a key role in the "Reinvention" initiative of Chicago City Colleges, creating strategies and programs for diverse student populations while eliminating barriers to employment and addressing inequality in higher education. In 2012, he launched the Business, Professional Services and Entrepreneurship "College to Careers" offering, a Mayoral initiative providing students access to real-world experience through teacher-practitioners and internships, and getting more students and graduates into meaningful jobs.

Donald J. Laackman

Prior to his presidency at Harold Washington, Laackman managed Workforce and Education programs for Civic Consulting Alliance, a non-profit partnership dedicated to reshaping how Chicago operates through building pro-bono teams of business experts, government leaders and staff that develop strategies for making Chicago more livable, affordable and globally competitive. 

As a principal at Civic Consulting Alliance from 2008 to 2010, Laackman led several workforce system change initiatives, including the creation of the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, designed to increase Chicago's return on investment to taxpayers for over $360 million spent on workforce programs. Additionally, he headed up the development of a strategy for improving Career and Technical Education for 25,000 Chicago Public School high school students.
From 1984 to 2007, Laackman worked at Accenture, one of the world's leading consulting, technology and outsourcing firms. Over his 23-year career with the company, he led strategy, sales, planning, change and information technology solution initiatives, while providing client management and professional development and business-unit management.
Laackman received his B.A. degree in Economics, Politics, Rhetoric and Law from the University of Chicago in 1984. He obtained his Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago in 2009.
He is married to Allyson Laackman, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. They have two children, Donald and Emily.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit