On the heels of selecting a new president, Roanoke College has selected a new dean of the college.
Roanoke College today announces that Dr. Kathy J. Wolfe, a champion of integrative and experiential learning, has been named vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college.
Wolfe has 28 years of teaching experience and 12 years in administrative leadership roles, most recently as dean of engaged education at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. She has a broad understanding of higher education, having worked in private and public liberal arts institutions, community colleges and the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Wolfe will assume the dean's position in July, replacing Dr. Richard Smith, who retired in the summer of 2021 after 12 years in the position.
Roanoke College President Michael C. Maxey said after a rigorous, competitive national search, “Dr. Wolfe emerged as our candidate of choice for the deanship. She stands out in many ways that will enhance Roanoke College, our academic program, and the experience of our students.”
Dr. Frank Shushok Jr., Roanoke College president-elect who will succeed retiring President Maxey in July, said Wolfe’s vision aligns perfectly with Roanoke College’s approach.
“I was struck by Dr. Wolfe’s authentic connection to Roanoke College’s mission, especially our commitment that every student be invited to explore purpose en route to finding meaningful work,” Shushok said. “Dr. Wolfe is student-centered, collaborative, excited about curricular innovation, and eager to partner with our talented faculty to dream forward the next iteration of Roanoke College’s offering to the world. She brings refined leadership skills and experience to Roanoke College and believes wholeheartedly that the education Roanoke College delivers translates into powerful marketplace skills critical for thriving communities.”
Hamilton College President David Wippman praised Wolfe as, “a student-centered, liberal-arts focused, mission-driven educator who works tirelessly to ensure that all students have equitable access to the resources and opportunities that will make them successful. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of ALEX [Advise, Learn, Experience initiative], Hamilton’s coordinated advising network for students, and has demonstrated her readiness for this opportunity at Roanoke. We will miss her contributions at Hamilton, but we extend our congratulations to her on this well-deserved appointment.”
At Hamilton College, Wolfe oversaw the ALEX initiative, which seeks to integrate and improve advising, academic support and experiential learning opportunities for students. Prior to that, she served two terms as dean of undergraduate programs and professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University, her alma mater. Between deanships there, she spent a year and a half with the American Association of Colleges and Universities as a senior fellow and interim vice president for integrative liberal learning and the global commons.
Wolfe said she was drawn to the College for a variety of reasons. One is that she wanted to make a difference in the academic curriculum, where she can work with faculty to help integrate liberal arts study and career exploration.
“What drew me to Roanoke College was the College’s willingness to embrace thoughtful change while maintaining a firm commitment to high-quality, affordable and equitable liberal arts education,” Wolfe said. “I’m excited about the partnership with President-elect Frank Shushok, and eager to get to know the community and collaborate with the faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, the board and others to develop creative new programs. We will connect with the local community and articulate the value of the liberal arts.”
Wolfe, who was a first-generation college student, holds a B.A. in English from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in English from Texas Christian University. She is a member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Conference of Academic Deans, the National Academic Advising Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English/College Composition and Communication.