Interim President Wayne Webster is leaving his post to serve as Albion College’s 18th president beginning in July
Audrey Pantaz, Contributing Writer
On Tuesday, March 4, Interim President Wayne P. Webster emailed College of Wooster faculty, staff and students to announce his appointment as the President of Albion College and his subsequent move away from The College of Wooster on July 1, 2023. Webster’s move is in conjunction with the beginning of the tenure of Dr. Anne McCall as the incoming 13th president of The College of Wooster.
Webster has been a part of the Wooster community for the past six years, serving as the Vice President for Advancement since 2017 and Interim President following former President Sarah Bolton’s appointment as President of Whitman College beginning in July 2022. During the past year, he led the opening of the new Lowry Center, unveiled a redesigned mascot and reconfigured the College’s Human Resources department (HR).
Webster will serve as the 18th president at Albion College in Albion, MI, beginning in July. Webster expressed “mixed emotions” in his departing email on Tuesday about his divergence from the College. Webster wrote of his animation about “leading another nationally-ranked residential liberal arts college as president and joining a small community on the move” while acknowledging that he will miss “Wooster and the amazing community who welcomed [him] so warmly six years ago.”
During his time as Vice President for Advancement, Interim President Webster led the fundraising effort for the $36 million student center renovation, unveiled under his leadership as Interim President in stages throughout September 2022-February 2023. When asked about his proudest achievement at The College of Wooster, Webster said, “Easily my involvement with the renovation and the expansion of the Lowry Center from conceptualization, design, selecting architects, leading the efforts to raise the money to make it happen, etc. Being the President the year it was opened and dedicated was a real treat.”
Webster, as with most higher education administrators, is actively working to adjust to the profound changes in higher education brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a rapidly evolving culture. Webster led a budget alignment process in the past year, which forced administrators and the campus community to examine how we can adjust to the changing field of liberal arts education. Webster shared,“We have been nimble, and that’s what it will take for liberal arts colleges to be successful moving forward.”
During the 2022-2023 school year, Webster has worked to implement a restructuring of HR at The College of Wooster. In February, Webster worked on updating the employee handbook for college faculty and staff. The updated manual, published last month, examined policies that were at least five years out of date to make them more equitable for all employees, most notably the process by which employees accrue paid time off. The handbook is just one aspect of Webster’s mission to “create greater transparency” this year. As an additional change to HR, the chief HR officer position was updated under Webster’s lead to incorporate that person as a board member. In Webster’s words, this allowed more accessible communication that “will introduce viewpoints into our conversations more readily, and that will benefit all.” In conjunction with many staff and faculty members, Webster worked to examine “how decisions are made, what data informs those decisions and gaining input into those decisions.” He described this process as “something that will stay with [him] throughout [his] career.”
On July 1, incoming president Dr. Anne McCall will begin her tenure at the College. Dr. McCall currently works at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she is the provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. McCall’s career began at Tulane University where she taught French and Women’s Studies before becoming Associate Dean. The administration of Wooster and Interim President Webster anticipate McCall to be a great fit for The College of Wooster. Webster shared that McCall and himself have been in communication since her appointment, and she is “already starting to see opportunities to make Wooster stronger moving forward.”
Above all, Webster values the students of The College of Wooster and wishes them well. He shared that the most rewarding aspect of his interim presidency was “getting to know more students.” As a parting message for the Wooster students he has come to know, Webster said, “You’re so creative, impressive, kind, and you’re going to change the world in meaningful ways. Thank you for welcoming me into this role so warmly.”