President Sarah R. Bolton

President Sarah R. Bolton

Sarah Bolton is the 12th president of The College of Wooster and a professor of physics.

Bolton came to Wooster in July 2016 and led the final two years of the record-setting $190 million Wooster’s Promise comprehensive campaign, which resulted in 71 new scholarships, three new endowed professorships, 34 new endowed funds to support faculty, student research, and academic departments, and the creation of 10 endowed funds to support APEX, the College’s integrated center for student academic and career advising, planning and experiential learning.

In 2018, Bolton cut the ribbon on the $40 million state-of-the-art Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Sciences. Gifts and commitments to Wooster’s Promise also contributed to the recent construction of the Brush Hall student residence, the transformation of Gault Schoolhouse into residential space, and the renovated Alley in the lower level of Lowry Center.

In her first year at Wooster, Bolton collaborated with students, staff, and faculty to create Wooster’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plan. As part of that plan, the College developed the Perry Williams Fellowship program, which has brought nine excellent early-career faculty members to Wooster, and secured a $1.1 million Mellon-foundation grant to strengthen interdisciplinary work and faculty diversity at the College. 

Under her leadership, Wooster has grown to be the most international campus in Ohio, comprised of 40 percent U.S. students of color and international students hailing from 62 nations and 45 states as well as 25 percent Pell-eligible students. Bolton has led efforts to bolster equity, inclusion, and the sense of community on campus through the creation of a dedicated Title IX office and the hiring of the College’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Wooster’s curriculum also has evolved during her time at Wooster. In 2018, the College established new core curricular requirements to ensure all students build their capacities for understanding issues of diversity, justice, and global engagement.

Bolton also initiated work to add new majors and minors in vibrant emerging fields, many of which are interdisciplinary. Wooster faculty developed four new majors in 2018 and 2019, including: environmental geoscience, statistical and data sciences, education, and environmental studies.

Bolton is currently leading Connect, Create, Discover, an inclusive strategic planning process that seeks to steward Wooster’s core strengths and mission while charting a course forward that inspires young people from across the U.S. and around the world to continue to come to the College to learn, thrive, grow, and graduate ready for lives of purpose in a globally interconnected society. 

She serves on the boards of Wayne Economic Development Corporation, Culture of Respect, the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, as well as the Five Colleges of Ohio and Great Lakes College Association.

Prior to joining Wooster, Bolton served for six years as Dean of the College at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., overseeing many aspects of student life, including building build programs for first-generation college students, strengthening academic advising, academic resources, international study, first-year residential life, and student safety. She chaired the Faculty Steering Committee and was a model for women in science.

Bolton came to Williams as an assistant professor of physics in 1995 and was promoted to associate professor in 2001 and full professor in 2007—the first woman to reach this milestone in physics at Williams. She served as chair of Williams’ physics department from 2007 to 2010 and won the college’s Outstanding Mentor Award for Fostering Inclusive Academic Excellence in 2009. As a professor, she advised a dozen senior theses and more than 20 student research projects.

Her research explores the properties of novel, nanostructured materials, which have features made up of only a few atomic layers. She uses lasers to measure the ways that energy moves in these quantum mechanical systems. 

Bolton earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and biophysics from Brown University in 1988, a master’s degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991, and a doctorate in physics, also from Berkeley, in 1995.