Kaylee Liu, News Editor
After the 12th President Sarah Bolton left the College, Wooster has been searching for a new president to take over responsibilities from Interim President Wayne Webster. While searching for a new president, the College prioritized finding someone who would preserve Wooster traditions while strengthening the College financially and operationally through shared governance with the board, faculty and students. Ideally, the new president would also have a lifelong dedication to the ideals of liberal arts. Our incoming president, Dr. Anne E. McCall, fulfilled all these criteria in the eyes of the hiring committee. Currently, she is the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana and is expected to start her role at Wooster on July 1, 2023. Dr. McCall is also a scholar of nineteenth-century French fiction and life writing and will be a tenured professor in the department of French and Francophone studies. She will be making another visit to campus in late January and describes the campus atmosphere as “warm” and “lively.”
During the Q&A session, McCall introduced herself and answered some common questions from the community. One of the things she is looking forward to at Wooster is the “intimate, diverse and international community… combined with the dense ecosystem of course research.” For McCall, the “intense learning” that motivates students to push their academic limits represents the best of the liberal arts experience. She believes that the mission of small, private and particularly liberal arts colleges is to provide an intensive, individualized and dedicated learning experience, especially in the face of how higher education has been “scaled-up” in the past 20 years, leading large institutions to dominate the higher education space. She is deeply passionate about the power of liberal arts colleges to transform the lives of students and believes that educational opportunities “enhances human freedom and accomplishments.” Furthermore, she believes that advertising for Wooster should not be “glib” and instead focus on the potential a liberal arts education has to make students into leading thinkers, and that the privilege of being in a close-knit environment with peers and faculty guiding you in individualized learning should not be undersold. On top of that, communication and community through all branches of the campus is paramount to creating a productive learning environment and a better future. Diversity and inclusion is particularly important to McCall. She used to be a faculty member working in women’s studies “with friends and colleagues in African and Diaspora studies.”
With regards to the local community, Dr McCall is excited to experience 4th of July in Wooster. She intends to prioritize town and college relations and hopes to increase community engagement. She hopes to meet with elected officials, store owners and ordinary citizens, and hopes to find a way to partner with the city of Wooster in new ways. She also expressed appreciation for the ground crews and the staff that allow the College campus to function.
In terms of renovations for residential buildings, McCall admitted that there are some buildings in need for a “refresh” and stated that it would be a high priority for her to fundraise for those renovations. Her goal is for students to live in an environment that reflects the “ambition and […] accomplishments of the academic environment.” When asked what her greatest accomplishments were, McCall responded that renovating Holden Hall one day would be something she would be extremely proud of as it would “really allow people to flourish.” She also emphasized the importance that residence halls have on creating lasting friendships and highlighted that activities within residence halls are one of the best ways to create new connections and to “meet people who are not like you.” On this note, she touched on the importance of studying abroad when it comes to learning about political polarization. Seeing how political debates occur in non-American environments can provide valuable insight to political myopia. Learning about “the complexity of the world” requires that students are educated in a “global society” which requires empathy and curiosity from students going to study in other countries.
Finally, McCall touched on the financial challenges facing Wooster. McCall highlighted the importance of providing the best possible educational opportunities for students despite rising economic inequality and stated that a great college distinguishes itself from the masses by having “tradition that values the past […] and is not afraid to reorganize itself when needed to evolve in its offerings […] and even in its structures.” She stated that she would be looking for support from alumni and friends of the college who believe in its academic mission. Overall, she appeared optimistic about funding and stated that alumni and friends of the College “provide lifeblood financial investment in the students of today and tomorrow.”