By Mallika Mitra
As you may have noticed, President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran is not on campus this trimester. She has been granted a sabbatical by the college’s Board of Trustees and will return to campus for the spring term.
According to Provost Michael McDonald, who has stepped up as the acting President, President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran is spending this time reading, reflecting, and looking at the impact of technology on learning at small liberal arts colleges. She is visiting several high schools, as well as a Kalamazoo College alumnas in Singapore. President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran will also spend some time at the study abroad site in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“The timing is really great for this sabbatical. She spent a lot of time last quarter traveling around the United States launching [the College’s] public campaign,” McDonald said. “Now, she really is trying to be on sabbatical, which is a way to be away and be disconnected.”
As acting President, McDonald has stepped into the role as decision-maker for the campus, and is working with the President’s staff and vice presidents to keep moving forward with this year’s priorities and goals for next year.
“It’s both an honor and I’m kind of humbled by the opportunity to serve the institution in this way,” McDonald said. “I like new challenges. I like doing new things.”
The acting President added that he is excited to see how the work of the president is similar or different to work as the provost.
McDonald, who became the College’s Provost on July 1, 2008, explained that he and President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran have been exchanging emails, but he does not check in with her in terms of decision-making. He is in regular contact with the Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, Charlotte Hall.
“It was kind of challenging that the first decision I made as President was to close down the campus,” McDonald said of the two days during the first week of school that the campus had to be shut down due to the weather.
While McDonald has taken the role as acting president, Professor in the Natural Sciences Jan Tobochnik will serve as acting provost. According to McDonald, Tobochnik served for a year as interim provost six years ago.