K Names New Chief Academic Officer

Kalamazoo College has named a new provost to provide vision and direction for the academic program. President Jorge G. Gonzalez tapped Danette Ifert Johnson, currently the vice provost at Ithaca College in New York, for the top academic position. She will begin her role on July 1, 2019.

New Provost Danette Ifert Johnson
Danette Ifert Johnson, currently the vice provost at Ithaca College in New York, will be Kalamazoo College’s new provost.

Johnson brings a wealth of experience to Kalamazoo College. A tenured professor at Ithaca College, Johnson has spent four years as vice provost. She also served as the inaugural director of Ithaca’s Integrative Core Curriculum, experience Gonzalez says will serve her well at K.

“In addition to her extensive administrative experience, Danette has a long record of teaching success, and her scholarly accomplishments are considerable,” said Gonzalez. “K is reimagining our signature K-Plan, the individualized academic and experiential path each student creates, to ensure it meets the needs of this generation. Danette will lead a talented and engaged academic community and partner with other leaders of the College to build upon and support an innovative vision to advance Kalamazoo College.”

Johnson says K’s reputation for excellence in residential liberal arts education, and integrating rigorous and meaningful classroom and experiential opportunities drew her to this role.

“My interactions throughout the search process confirmed that the community-wide commitment to prepare students for an ever more complex and diverse world is genuine,” said Johnson adding, “I am especially eager to collaborate with K’s outstanding faculty and staff as we look for ways to enhance the outstanding educational experiences already in place. I am excited to begin working with President Gonzalez and the entire K community.”

An alumna of West Virginia Wesleyan College, Johnson served her alma mater as president of the Alumni Council and a member of the Board of Trustees. She has been a faculty member at West Virginia Wesleyan and Texas Tech University in addition to Ithaca College. She served as the executive director and president of the Eastern Communication Association (ECA), which honored her as a distinguished teaching fellow and distinguished research fellow.

Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in speech communication and history from West Virginia Wesleyan College, a master’s degree in educational psychology from West Virginia University, and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in communication studies from Northwestern University.

Kalamazoo College’s previous provost, Michael A. (Mickey) McDonald, left the College to become the president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) of which Kalamazoo College is a member.

Johnson was selected after a national search conducted by an on-campus search committee and assisted by the firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, an executive search firm specializing in the education and non-profit sectors. The search committee was chaired by Rosemary K. Brown Professor in Mathematics and Computer Science Alyce Brady. Also serving on the committee were: Greg Diment ’84, Information Services; Dennis Frost, History and East Asian Studies; Binney Girdler, Biology and Environmental Studies; Shanna Salinas, English; Mary Beth Sarhatt, Trustee; Sarah Westfall, Student Development; and Jordan Wiley ’19. Wendy Fleckenstein provided administrative support.

“My thanks go to Alyce and the entire search committee for their hard work and success in evaluating a highly qualified pool of candidates. I am delighted with the outcome. Danette will be an excellent leader at the College,” said Gonzalez.

GLCA Appoints K Provost as its New President

The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) has appointed Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald as its new president. McDonald will begin his position at the GLCA in July 2018.

New GLCA President Mickey McDonald
Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald will begin serving the Great Lakes Association of Colleges (GLCA) as its president in July 2018.

K President Jorge Gonzalez will consult with faculty leadership to plan for the appointment of an interim provost to serve during the 2018-19 academic year. K will also begin preparations for a national search for the provost position.

In a message to faculty and staff, President Gonzalez wrote that McDonald provided invaluable support and counsel during his presidency. “I will miss his sharp mind, insightful knowledge of the College and of higher education, unflappable personality, good humor, and friendship. Mickey’s selection for the GLCA presidency is a testament of his leadership abilities and of K’s reputation in the higher education community.”

During his nearly 10 years of service, McDonald significantly shaped Kalamazoo College’s faculty, curriculum and future. He hired approximately one-third of the tenure-track/tenured faculty currently at K, increasing faculty of color from approximately 15 percent to 25 percent, and women faculty from approximately 45 percent to 55 percent.

McDonald helped support implementation of many of the elements of the Plan for Kalamazoo College’s Future including faculty approval of new graduation requirements and other curricular innovations, and an increasing emphasis on making K more diverse and inclusive. His leadership will help shape the vision of K for the next five years as he currently serves as co-coordinator of K’s current strategic planning initiative.

With former President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran and others, McDonald helped envision, plan and establish the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. He also helped secure more than $3.25 million in major institutional grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (in support of the Shared Passages Program and also in support of major diversity and inclusion initiatives), the Sherman-Fairchild Foundation, Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, among others. He served as acting president of K from December 2013 through March 2014.

Higher education leadership and local community engagement are values K holds, and McDonald participated enthusiastically and frequently. Locally, he serves on the Board of Directors of Farmers Alley Theatre, and regionally, he served on the Southwest Michigan First Education Committee. He served as a member of the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education and served as facilitator for a number of leadership development programs for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

Macomb Assistant Dean to Shadow K Provost through ACE Network

We all have a shadow, but Mickey’s has a name: Michele.

Beginning this fall and throughout the school year, Michele Kelly, associate dean of arts and sciences at Macomb Community College, will periodically shadow Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald.

Shadow Program through ACE Network
Throughout the school year, Michele Kelly, associate dean of arts and sciences at Macomb Community College, will periodically shadow Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald.

McDonald’s mentorship of Kelly is under the auspices of the Michigan-ACE Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education. The “Moving the Needle” Senior-Level Leadership Shadow Program aims to increase the number of women in top college and university leadership by providing them the experience they need to move into positions such as president and provost – the chief academic officer for a higher education institution.

Kelly, who was chosen for the program through a competitive process, acknowledged that Macomb – a 40,000-student community college serving the Detroit suburbs – is a very different kind of school than K. But she said there is much that observing McDonald can teach her.

“I hope to be a provost someday,” said Kelly, whose previous experience includes administrative positions at Queens University, a private liberal arts college in Charlotte, N.C. “I think that there are some trends in higher education that transcend institutions. It will be interesting to get the perspective of a completely different institution to fill in the gaps of my own knowledge. Following Mickey around I hope to do that.”

McDonald said Kelly won’t just be working with him.

“It’s more than just following me around,” he said. “She has access to everybody at K, and specifically digging into the areas she kind of wants to fill in in terms of her own background. Whether it’s around budgeting, strategic planning, global initiatives, diversity and inclusion – one of the things we’re trying to do is pair her up with the people on our campus so she can learn about different leadership styles, different approaches to various areas in higher education.”

He said her time at K – up to 150 hours through June – will be scheduled around key learning opportunities. For example, a recent visit allowed her to sit in on a meeting about the College’s strategic plan – an aspect of administration in which she said she had not previously participated. Other visits will allow her to leverage her own experience, such as when administrators discuss the follow-up to K’s assessment by the Higher Learning Commission, a process she helped lead at Macomb.

McDonald said he sees mentoring Kelly as benefiting K, too.

“While it is not necessarily explicitly supporting the mission of preparing our students for their lives after K,  I think implicitly by supporting women’s leadership, and higher education leadership, it’s contributing broadly to our mission,” he said.

It’s also a way of giving back to ACE, the American Council on Education. McDonald said a yearlong ACE Fellowship at Ohio’s Baldwin-Wallace College (now University) during the 2001-02 school year, when he was an administrator at California’s Occidental College, helped further his career.

“It certainly much better prepared me for leadership opportunities and gave me the confidence and specific experiences that would make me a more effective leader,” he said.

Beyond experience, the ACE program allowed him several years later to make what turned out to be a vital connection. Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez, then at Trinity University in Texas, was an ACE Fellow during the 2007-08 school year at Pomona College, a near neighbor of Occidental in the Los Angeles suburbs.

“That’s where we met,” McDonald said.