Ron Cole selected as next provost


Amasa Smith

Ron Cole, an Allegheny alumnus and geology department chair, will serve as provost and dean of the college beginning July 1, 2015.

After months of in-house conversation, President James Mullen announced Ron Cole as the next provost and dean of the college on Saturday, Feb. 21. Cole, professor and chair of the geology department, will begin serving in his newly elected position on July 1, 2015.

The internal search process began last semester with nominations for the position of the provost. Following nominations, the Faculty Council, a committee designated to serve in advising the president and dean of the college, reviewed the nominees. With the help of Mullen, Faculty Council chose the final three candidates to move forward in the provost selection process. The three candidates consisted of Cole; Sharon Wesoky, professor of political science; and Scott Wissinger, professor of biology. All three candidates submitted letters of interest, curriculum vitaes and held a presentation open to the campus.

“What I am particularly appreciative of is each of the three nominees were willing to stand before their colleagues and the entire campus community and offer their vision for the future, the opportunities they see, the challenges they see,” said Mullen. “I think that takes tremendous courage and tremendous selflessness and a tremendous commitment to the institution. Each of our three nominees are very distinguished scholars and teachers. Each of our three nominees could serve with distinction as the provost and I think we should all be very appreciative of the fact that they were willing to engage this dialogue with the campus.”

After the community presentations, Mullen talked with each nominee and with Faculty Council.

“The final decision was mine. I am very appreciative that I had the opportunity to have conversations with faculty council, that I received comments from across the campus, thoughts from across the campus during the process, but the decision ultimately was mine,” said Mullen.

Mullen and Linda DeMeritt, current provost and dean of the college, voiced that Cole, Wesoky and Wissinger were all qualified for the position of provost and each would have filled the position well.

Cole, a 1987 Allegheny alumnus, has been involved in a multitude of areas with the college following graduation. Returning as a professor, Cole has also chaired the Faculty Review Committee, Faculty Council and the Finance and Facilities Committee. In addition to these accomplishments, Mullen spoke directly to Cole’s character.

“I heard from across the campus, all constituencies of the campus, of his ability to listen, his caring nature,” said Mullen. “It was truly wonderful to hear the comments that I heard from across the campus.”

Officially beginning as dean of the college in fewer than five months, Cole, with the help of DeMeritt will be going through a transition into the position.

“Already Provost DeMeritt has been very good about letting me know about events that are taking place this semester and has already expressed…that she is open to questions I might have even at this point,” said Cole. “The official transition, as I understand it, my start date will be July 1, and Provost DeMeritt is going to remain on campus. She’s going to be teaching next year, but not with a full teaching load. So part of her role would be to remain as an adviser for the new provost.”

With Combinations 2020, Allegheny’s strategic plan, in the midst of implementation, DeMeritt sees this period in Allegheny’s development as a good time for her to retire as provost.

“Prof. Cole has been involved in the strategic process all along so he’s very familiar with the strategic goals and its a good time for me to step down I would say because there is kind of this point where…the Gateway is up and running, interdisciplinary programs have gone through the curriculum committee,” said DeMeritt. “I think he’ll be doing a lot of working with helping with implementation. It’s a crucial period because as something on paper you don’t really know what that’s going to look like until you get it on the ground and up and running.”

According to DeMeritt, Allegheny has made tremendous progress on its strategic goals, including domestic diversity, civic learning, internationalization and interdisciplinarity, but the college is still in a critical period of effectively implementing these goals. Cole is excited and humbled to be able to go forward as dean of the college during this time.

“I said this in person, in my presentation, in my letter to others that I’m truly honored to have this opportunity,” said Cole. “I never saw myself in this role. Years ago, it’s not something that was foremost in  my mind, and I’m warmed and overwhelmed by the response I’ve gotten from people in the community. It’s encouraging and it’s also motivating to know that I’ve got support.

“Also, I’m an Allegheny alum so it’s sort of interesting for me to be in this perspective now…I just have a true vested interest and love of Allegheny…I have a vested interest in seeing Allegheny successful and we’re in a great place right now. We have more national recognition than ever. I truly believe we’re in a very strong position and we’re going to build on it, and I’ve said it before, we’re building on excellence and that’s the approach I want to have stepping into this role: how can we continue to build and move into a vibrant future.”