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Frederick Mercer Van Sickle is a Canton, Illinois native. He received his undergraduate degree in history from Lake Forest College in 1983. Van Sickle’s last year at the college he completed a senior thesis entitled, “A special place: Lake Forest and the great Depression, 1929-1940.” Van Sickle went on to obtain his master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1989 and later, in 1996, a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. His wife's name is Susan and they have two children.
Van Sickle has held positions in alumni relations and development at various colleges, including his undergraduate alma mater (Lake Forest College), the University of Michigan, Columbia University, and Princeton University. Beginning in 2014, he also worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey as its Chief Development Officer. In 2016, Van Sickle joined Cornell University as vice president for Alumni Affairs and Development.
Van Sickle is chair of the Board for the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County and also served as a trustee of International House New York. He is a current trustee of the Holland Society of New York.