Sam Killebrew

Senior News Writer

Riley Jones

Staff Writer


Bolton will join Whitman College as the president starting July.

On Jan. 11, Chair of the Board of Trustees Sally Staley ’78 announced that President Sarah Bolton would be leaving the College at the end of the academic year to assume the position of President at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington on July 18.

Hailing from a loyal professional career at Williams College, first as a professor, then a department chair and eventually becoming the College Dean, Bolton carries with her a successful past in liberal arts higher education. As a Dean at Williams College, she worked closely with students and helped build student programs, enhance student life and strengthen academic programs. This commitment to liberal arts institutions led to a mutual attraction–on behalf of Wooster toward her, and on behalf of herself to Wooster. After she was asked to take on the role of President, she mentioned that she was touched upon how strange it was transitioning from working closely with students to now working closer with alumni.

When asked to reflect  on the last five years and explain what she is most proud of, Bolton said she takes special pride in the College’s equity initiatives. Bolton was impressed by “[Wooster’s] foundational commitment to having women and a whole diversity of people.” “There are a few things I’m grateful for:The ways, across campus, that people have been committed to equity and inclusion, and the importance of supporting every student, staff member and faculty,” said Bolton.

 “You see that in lots of different places. Adding the Diversity, Power and Privilege requirement to the curriculum, becoming the most international campus in Ohio,” Bolton said, adding, “Switching to be a test-optional institution.” She also cited initiatives that have come out of work with faculty. “I would say, also, other types of curricular work that faculty have led has been really terrific. Adding five new majors, creating the pathways program”.

Over the years, faculty, staff and students have met fortuitous and challenging times. Nearly half of President Bolton’s tenured time here at Wooster was drastically affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the College’s faculty had plans to advance experiential learning and elevate their curriculum that could not be carried out. Bolton mentioned her disappointment in these initiatives that were never able to come to fruition, citing experiential opportunities like internships, community engagement and research that were all halted by the pandemic. 

With these achievements at Wooster on her table, there begs the question–why now? Bolton explained her reasons for leaving the College after all of her success here.

“Much of what we’ve been working on was devised in 2017. Things like adding new majors, adding to the curriculum and strengthening DEI–and these things have been accomplished. The College will, in the next couple of years, be moving towards asking–What’s next?” She continued, “Students, staff and faculty have done so much work together, and I think it may be a great benefit for the Wooster community to have a new set of eyes on the issues that face our community.”

The face that has become so familiar to so many students here at The College of Wooster has announced her departure after five years of serving as the Chief Executive, and many students have now had time to reflect on this announcement.

One student, Tabitha Skornik-Hayes ’22 said, “I enjoy her liberal presence on this campus, so my concern is that maybe someone with different outlooks may come in and change the liberal presence that’s so ingrained in our community.” 

Emmy Todd ’22, president of Scot Council, also had a lot to say about Sarah Bolton’s departure. Todd has worked directly with Bolton, often acting as a direct link between the student body and the administration. 

“President Bolton has given so much to Wooster during her time here, from her wisdom to her engagement with student organizations,” Todd said. “I am grateful for the chance I had to get to know her, and I know Wooster will always be in her heart.” Members of Scot Council have also expressed their gratitude and feelings toward Bolton’s announcement. A statement from Scot Council declared, “President Bolton’s commitment to this college has been outstanding. She will be especially remembered by Scot Council for her essential groundwork initiatives in establishing DEI policies and resources on campus. Her consistent support for building and infrastructure renovation will also be remembered and appreciated. President Bolton’s legacy to our campus will be her commitment to accessibility, something rarely seen by such a prominent official on campus. Our hope as she departs is that our next president upholds these dedications.”

Hopes for the next presidency and its effects on students to come is a common theme dwelling in the minds of students, organizations, and Bolton alike. Many students expressed their trust in Bolton’s policy and management–hoping for consistency in the next administration. President Bolton herself, however, expressed that her concern lies in the next administration’s belief in the campus. Bolton sees the College as a place where an idea is put forth by a student and an action plan can be made the following day. This is the vitality President Bolton hopes remains at Wooster in her absence, and something she can emulate at Whitman College. In her departure, she hopes her successor can capture the mission of Wooster and understand that there is a strong student body willing to help them with any hurdles they face along the way.  Bolton explained, “I want people to know that the Wooster community is a treasure. The College has a long history, and has had its eye on the horizon for a long time. There’s a lot we need to do to become the equitable and inclusive community that we want to become, to become a place that really supports everybody. But there’s a lot of strength to help make that happen. I think that’s what I would want the next president to know, is that people are ready to come together to do that. They are ready to move.”

There is a tradition upheld in The White House that is also present at the College, where the outgoing president leaves behind a handwritten letter to their successor that attempts to capture the power they are about to bequeath. Bolton mentioned a secret compartment in the President’s home—that she found later in her time here—that contains artifacts from her predecessors. At the end of this academic year, Bolton will add to the collection, and leave her letter.

Written by

Chloe Burdette

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