President Laura Casamento stands at the podium while giving a speech.
President Laura Casamento stands at the podium while giving a speech.
Alexandria Leland

Laura Casamento retires as president of Utica University

Todd Pfannestiel elected new president.

Effective today Laura Casamento has retired as president of Utica University after serving seven years at the helm. 

According to Casamento, the decision to retire came quickly over the past summer. After coming through the pandemic and with the current strategic plan ending in 2025— it was time for a transition.

“I thought well you know I can continue to keep working 24/7 or I can do something a little bit different,” Casamento told The Tangerine in an exit interview. “I decided it over the course of a week in the summer and once I let people know and once the community knew it was just a big relief for me personally.” 

Anthony Villanti, a close colleague who worked with Casamento in the private sector and inside the administration as special assistant to the president, said the demands on her were greater as Utica University’s president and it will be different not working with her in the future. 

“It’s going to be strange but the nice thing is I know we’ll stay in touch,” Villanti said. “I’m sure she’s going to want [President-elect] Todd [Pfannenstiel] to set his standards [and] she’s going to be readily available for any phone call to help out with anything.”

Casamento joined the then-Utica College back in 2004 as vice president of institutional advancement before becoming the ninth and first female president — replacing former President Todd Hutton who retired in 2016.

Under her leadership, the institution has:

  • Reduced average student debt by 30% and raised the six-year graduation rate by nearly 40%;
  • Increased admissions yield by 5%;
  • Invested $21 million in capital improvement projects;
  • Completed various academic, recreational, and residential expansion projects;
  • Introduced the 2020-2025 strategic plan;
  • Achieved a cash operating surplus of over $5 million and increased total fundraising to more than $6 million;
  • Formed an Emergency Management Department;
  • Completed the full transition to a university.

Despite Casamento’s departure Villanti will serve as special assistant to the incoming president but is anticipating a change in day-to-day operations.

“It’s going to be completely different. When I come in the morning I have a routine of getting things set for the day,” Villanti said. “…With Todd, it’s going to be a different approach so I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing how he approaches things.” 

Pfannenstiel will officially become the 10th president of the university on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, after serving as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs since June 2018.


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