Kalamazoo College’s strategic plan is in place, its fund raising campaign is closing in on its goal and President Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran says she’s had her Medicare card for several years.
That’s why now is the time to announce her retirement
coming in June 301, 2016, she says.
Enrollment has grown to nearly 1,500 students, the goal for 2017, according to the strategic plan she has helped move forward. She says the overhaul of the college’s signature curriculum, the K-Plan, has been updated so that it now serves students for the 21st century.
“The next person builds on a wonderful platform and the only way to go is up,” Wilson-Oyelaran says. Her remarks came in a press conference called to announce her plans to retire.
She has led the most successful fund-raising campaign in the college’s history--the Campaign for Kalamazoo College. The drive is in its final stages, having raised $123 million of its $125 million goal. The school has raised $19 million that will be earmarked for scholarships.
Spaces on campus that have been renovated or erected during President Wilson-Oyelaran’s tenure include the Hicks Center, the athletic fields and field house, and the highly regarded architecture that houses the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
Construction of a new fitness and wellness center will begin at the end of summer, and preliminary design of a new natatorium is complete.
But as important as the physical improvements to the campus, are the changes that have come about in the classroom. The school has revised graduation requirements, implemented a Shared Passages Seminar Series, which helps students reflect upon and integrate their academic opportunities and their experiences, and added three new academic majors--business, critical ethnic studies, and women and gender studies.
The college also is more diverse than when she arrived 10 years ago--26 percent of K students identify as U.S. students of color and international students (those seeking degrees and those visiting) are nearly 10 percent of the student body.
Her successes come at a time when liberal arts colleges are struggling to convince students and their parents of their relevancy in today’s world. Which makes her accomplishments that much more impressive.
She began her duties in July of 2005, having been unanimously elected to the post. She is the first woman and first African-American to serve as president of the 182-year-old institution. Prior to the presidency of K she served as vice president and dean of the college of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
She says she and her husband, Olasope (Sope) Oyelaran, plan to return to North Carolina to escape the brutal Michigan winters, but she plans to return to Kalamazoo when she can. “I don’t want to miss a Gilmore” Keyboard Festival, she says.
The search for a new president of Kalamazoo College
begins immediately. Chair of the Board of Trustees Charlotte Hall says the search committee would include trustees, alumni, students, faculty, and staff.
Hall says Wilson-Oyelaran leaves the college in a very strong position, thanks to her "vision, passion, and humanity." Wilson-Oyelaran is a "really brilliant strategic thinker," who at the same time is viewed with admiration and affection by the faculty, staff, and students.
"She can do it all," Hall says.
Source: Kalamazoo College Press conference and Jeff Palmer, Kalamazoo College