Anne E. McCall named 13th president of The College of Wooster
WOOSTER, OH (Dec. 8)—Anne E. McCall, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana, has been named the 13th president of The College of Wooster. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved McCall’s appointment following a 10-month nationwide search conducted by a presidential search committee comprised of trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, and students. McCall begins her role as president on July 1, 2023.
An inspirational and values-driven administrator with a track record for building innovation through inclusive excellence, dedicated teacher and mentor, and internationally recognized scholar of nineteenth-century French fiction and life writing, McCall will be the second woman to lead Wooster as president since its founding in 1866. She also will be a tenured professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies.
“We knew that leading the College would present a compelling opportunity to the right candidate, and we are confident Dr. McCall embodies the formidable set of qualities embedded in the presidential job prospectus at the beginning of the search,” said Sally Staley ‘78, chair of the Board of Trustees. “She is an inspiring advocate for expanding access to higher education for all who desire it, and she’s passionately committed to the liberal arts. She was immediately drawn to the internationality of our small campus and has already begun thinking of how to further expand Wooster’s international reputation by connecting our campus to her large network of scholars and students around the world.”
Staley continued, “A clear understanding of the fiscal sustainability challenges throughout the industry and demonstrated attention to both academic and operational excellence were important components of Dr. McCall’s leadership track record that were immediately apparent to the search committee.”
McCall was selected among a pool of more than 60 highly qualified applicants for “her dedication to the liberal arts, research, and experiential learning; an observable commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout her work on campus and in service to the community; and her financial acumen and transformational leadership style,” explained Peter Sundman ’81, trustee and chair of the presidential search committee.
“She is the right person for Wooster, and I look forward to the informed and innovative approach she will take to leading the future growth of our great institution,” said Sundman.
A Record of Innovation in the Liberal Arts, Expanding Experiential Learning, and Access
“The College of Wooster stands out by the richness of the academic opportunities, including the well-known senior I.S., which requires that the entire student body—everyone!—positions itself under faculty guidance as producers of knowledge, experts who push knowledge forward rather than simply as learners,” said McCall. “Wooster’s distinguished history and reputation bear witness to the positive impact of generations of visionary, dedicated, creative, and accomplished staff, faculty, and students. I can’t wait to join this highly-charged intellectual community.”
Xavier is ranked fifth among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report and first among all institutions for the number of African American graduates who complete medical school and multiple Ph.D. programs. As provost, McCall oversees the development of all educational programs and enrollment for the 3,500-student campus, institutional research as well as the grants and sponsored programs office, the libraries, career services and global engagement, student academic success, and university centers and institutes focused on community outreach, advancing teaching and faculty development, equity and justice, Black Catholic studies, and health equity and research.
Xavier President Reynold Verret shared that McCall will be missed for the dedication and ingenuity she brought to the New Orleans campus. “Anne McCall has given so much to Xavier through her commitment to our students and to their education at the highest level. She has elaborated new academic programs addressing much needed representation in key disciplines and has been a steadfast advocate of the values of the academy. Yes, she will be missed at Xavier, even as we celebrate her presidency at The College of Wooster,” Verret said.
“Dr. McCall’s sense of purpose and drive are matched by a level of creativity and ability to get things done that will shape the future of the College and propel it into its next chapter,” added Xavier alumna Gilda Barabino, who serves as president and professor of biomedical and chemical engineering at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts.
Since joining Xavier in 2016, McCall has collaborated with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community organizations to create and implement a new core curriculum and nearly two dozen new graduate and undergraduate degree programs in areas of growing student interest, emerging knowledge, and professional opportunities. She has also supported the Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit; inter-university pipeline programs and partnerships, including international partnerships; and a major collaboration with southeast Louisiana’s largest health system.
She has led and contributed to successful capital fundraising campaigns and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon, W.K. Kellogg, and Kresge foundations, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation to support the staffing and infrastructure for much of Xavier’s programmatic growth over the past six years.
“Higher education is at a critical point for transformation,” said Kim Churches, president of The Washington Center, a firm that provides college students with immersive internships and academic seminars in the nation’s capital. “Anne McCall is an innovative and collaborative leader who will boost college access and ensure the next generation is prepared for their careers. I applaud The College of Wooster’s decision to appoint her as the next president.”
Prior to Xavier, McCall held leadership positions at three other institutions of distinction, including as dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University from 2013 to 2016; dean of arts, humanities, and social sciences at the University of Denver from 2008 to 2013; and associate dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University from 2006 to 2008. In each of her prior administrative posts, she has been instrumental in developing new interdisciplinary courses and specialized centers, cultivating domestic and global pipeline and programmatic partnerships, leading teams to secure funds for critical initiatives, and expanding opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.
Championing Inclusive Excellence with a Deep Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
“Wooster has a very distinct and structured approach to its core value of shared governance and collaboration focused on the quality of experience for its students. Anne’s approach to the work of colleges and universities centers perfectly in such an environment,” explained Carlton E. Brown, senior fellow and practice lead for justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) and president emeritus of Clark Atlanta University and Savannah State University. “Her innovation leadership relies on enabling all voices and orchestrating the creative clash and confluence of ideas and strategy for the betterment of the institutional community.”
“Anne understands the challenges ahead of us and is deeply passionate about enhancing the sense of belonging among members of our community while strengthening opportunities and support systems for students, staff, and faculty success,” added Ashley Reid, interim associate vice president of student affairs at Wooster and a member of the search committee.
“I am thrilled that Anne McCall is a proven leader committed to equity and diversity,” said Leslie Wingard, dean for faculty development, professor of English and a member of the search committee. “Without a doubt, she will appreciate meeting our equally devoted College of Wooster faculty. The Wooster faculty are all in for maintaining an inclusive collective of staff, teachers, and students here. We are also all in for working toward a moral boost that stems from creating a careful work-life balance here, a balance that allows ample time to devote to our research agendas and to our off-campus interests.”
Wooster’s diverse and global community and commitment to providing students with applied opportunities to connect learning beyond the classroom were major draws for McCall.
“Wooster shines for the opportunities students have to link in-class, experiential learning, career preparation, and service. And it does all of this in a close-knit community whose diversity makes it a microcosm of our country and world,” added McCall. “Where better to learn about oneself, others, and our world than in an intimate setting in which students of different backgrounds, locations, and identities are all called upon to do this work and become themselves more fully? At our best and by our very efforts, we show the world a better way to be together.”
A hallmark of McCall’s career has been her unwavering commitment to inclusive excellence. At Tulane, she served as director of the women’s studies program and co-led a pre-strategic planning group on diversity. At the University of Denver, she created a cohort of ten courses on migrations and diasporas. At Binghamton and Xavier, she has commissioned task forces to study data, dialogue with colleagues, and make recommendations, many of which have been implemented. Most recently, she has overseen substantial increases in underrepresented minority tenure-track hires at Xavier as well as new cross-college training and programming to support equitable hiring practices and evaluations, professional development opportunities, celebrations, restorative justice trainings, and an NSF Advance-funded initiative to address systemic inequities contributing to a lack of female STEM faculty, particularly female faculty of color.
As the current chair of the Steering Committee for the U.S. section of Scholars at Risk, McCall works to support academic freedom and university values around the world, in particular by supporting persecuted scholars seeking placements, advocating for the freedom of jailed scholars and practitioners, and promoting more broadly the freedom to think. She is an alumna of the New Orleans Campaign for Equity training and its criminal justice reform cluster.
International Scholarship and Connections
At Wooster, McCall looks forward to nurturing new and existing relationships to support domestic and international partnerships that she says will “enrich and complement the existing and developing curriculum and ensure that students from around the world feel fully part of the student community.”
McCall’s faculty and early administrative career took place largely at Tulane University, where she worked from 1991 to 2008, teaching French and women’s studies and holding the position of program director before becoming associate dean. She also served as a service-learning fellow, participated in NCAA recertification processes, and served in hurricane Katrina recovery efforts while at Tulane.
Her research publications focus on nineteenth-century French fiction and life-writing, most notably on works by George Sand, and she has served as president of the George Sand Association. She also maintains a special interest in migration studies and has implemented interdisciplinary courses on the topic at several prior institutions. Despite a full administrative load, she remains active in her field of scholarship, presenting papers and organizing workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally.
McCall earned a bachelor’s degree in French and German from the University of Virginia and spent nine years in Europe earning master’s and doctoral degrees in French literature from the Université Strasbourg.
“What excites me the most about Dr. McCall is her experience living abroad and being surrounded by different cultures. As an international student myself, having a president who understands the challenge of living outside your country is a great comfort,” said Amanda Iskin ’24, an economics major from Sao Paolo Brazil and a member of the search committee. “I believe Dr. McCall will bring a diverse perspective to Wooster along with momentum to continue improving our international campus.”
Former student, Liz Suarez, now chief academic officer for University Prep, tuition free public charter prep schools, described McCall as a leader and mentor capable of making deep connections with others and helping them grow.
“Anne is the leader that every academic institution deserves, but only some are lucky enough to have. She is thoughtful, caring, funny, and smarter than anyone else in the room. Despite her incredible knowledge, experience, and level of responsibility, she still manages to make each person she interacts with feel seen, heard, and known on a personal level,” said Suarez. “Oftentimes, these attributes can be found at the expense of holding incredibly high expectations and demanding excellence from students and colleagues, but not for Anne. Being her student made me a better learner, a better teacher, and a better professional.”
Returning Home to Ohio
Born in Washington, D.C., McCall moved to Cincinnati at age six and attended Clifton Elementary and Walnut Hill High School, with one semester at the American School of Paris.
McCall is married to Ravi Palat, Ph.D. a historical sociologist and political economist at Binghamton University and has three adult children who live in Texas and California with their families. Among the many things she looks forward to upon moving to Wooster this summer are campus movie nights, book readings, gallery openings, concerts, plays, and more. She grew up rooting for the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals and University of Cincinnati athletic teams.
McCall will succeed Interim President Wayne P. Webster, who assumed the role in June 2022 when former President Sarah R. Bolton left to become president of Whitman College. Webster’s last day as interim president will be June 30, 2023.
“The Board of Trustees has the highest admiration and gratitude for Dr. Webster’s exemplary leadership as interim president during this year of transition,” added Staley. “He has worked to knit our community back together after more than 2.5 years of pandemic, implement remaining aspects of the Connect, Create, Discover strategic plan, and facilitate important campus conversations on ways to ensure Wooster remains a strong institution now and in the future.”
To view The College of Wooster presidential announcement, video messages, and other information, visit wooster.edu/presidential-announcement.
Posted in News on December 8, 2022.