Faculty and Staff Mourn the Loss of Stephanie Balmer



Former Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Stephanie Balmer passed away on Saturday, Feb. 17. Colleagues remember Balmer as “nothing short of a force of nature,” according to Connie McNamara, vice president of marketing and communication.

Balmer was appointed Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid in 2008 by President Bill Durden ’77, when she left her position as dean of admissions at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. She began working at Dickinson in 2009, according to a The Dickinsonian article published in Nov. 2013 about her departure from the college.

“She was passionate about Dickinson, the most energetic person I ever met, stunningly smart and incredibly kind,” adds McNamara. “She was the ultimate ambassador for Dickinson, and her impact touched all corners of this campus and far beyond it.”

According to the aforementioned The Dickinsonian article, during her time at Dickinson, Balmer served as a member of the President’s staff, All-College Committee on Planning and Budget, All-College committee on Enrollment and Student Life, campaign Steering committee, and the President’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability, among others.

“Stephanie had a spirit about her like no one else—an engaging, passionate, smart and driven leader who was also a ferocious Red Devils athletics fan and a fun-loving pop culture trivia guru,” says Chief of Staff and Secretary of the College Karen Faryniak ’86. “But most importantly, she was fiercely loyal to her family, friends and colleagues. The world has truly lost a very bright light.”

“I always joked with Stephanie’s husband that she was the ‘mayor’…she knew everyone’s name and had the ability to connect with every person she met in a genuine and enthusiastic way,” says Head Lacrosse Coach and Associate Athletics Director David Webster, a former colleague of Balmer. “Stephanie made a profound impact on our community.”

In a message announcing her passing to the student body on Sunday, Feb. 18, President Margee Ensign noted that although she never met Balmer, she saw how “her encouragement and support were pivotal for the success of several athletics facilities projects, including the new soccer field, Durden Athletic Training Center, new squash courts and fitness center.”

Balmer left Dickinson in 2014 to be the head of school of Harpeth Hall, an independent all-girls school for grades 5-12 in Nashville, Tn. According to the previous The Dickinsonian article, this decision put her closer to her extended family and allowed her husband to be closer to his job’s headquarters. “Not surprisingly, she was as beloved in that community as she was in ours. They are heartbroken, as are we,” said President Ensign.

President Ensign continued that Balmer “enhanced the reputation of Dickinson nationally and internationally by tirelessly and vigorously marketing our institution.”

“She loved and promoted Dickinson College and all that we stand for,” says current Vice President of Student Life Joyce Bylander. “We were lucky to have called her colleague and friend.”

“My prayers are with her husband and her daughter who have lost a bright light,” says McNamara.

“I feel blessed to have been her colleague and grateful that our two families developed such a close and enduring friendship,” says Webster.

A memorial service for Balmer will be held on Friday, Feb. 23, at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, TN.