Having lived in Manhattan and Rome, Hilary Link is no stranger to turning new places into a home.
Starting on July 1, 2019, Link will assume the position of president of Allegheny College — making Meadville her new home.
Members of the press were invited to a media meet-and-greet session at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center.
Link will serve as the 22nd president of the college and will be the first woman to hold the title in Allegheny history.
Chair of the Allegheny Board of Trustees Mark Campbell, ’82, welcomed media representatives to the event and introduced Link during his opening remarks.
“Hilary is a visionary and dynamic leader who will bring bold ideas and leadership to Allegheny,” Campbell said. “She has significant experience across a broad range of higher educational institutions, from large, public and private universities, to smaller, private colleges. Everywhere she’s been, (Link has) strengthened programs, increased resources and created innovative curriculum. She will do the same here.”
Campbell concluded by saying he is confident Link will advance Allegheny’s academic reputation and commitment to innovation and excellence both nationally and internationally.
“We are truly excited to welcome (Link) and her family to the Allegheny community,” Campbell said.
Describing Allegheny as a “perfect fit” for her, Link said she hopes to be a “perfect fit” for the Allegheny and Meadville communities, as well as the greater Crawford County area.
A wife, a mother of three boys and an interdisciplinary scholar of Italian art and literature, a teacher and an administrator, Link said the decision to move from Rome to Meadville was made by her family as a whole.
Link believes all of her different roles and experiences have prepared her to take on a leadership role at Allegheny.
“Allegheny does what so few higher education institutions do right now which is put at the center of the education it provides a true interdisciplinary, liberal arts education,” Link said.
To Link, interdisciplinary and liberal arts mean learning within a bigger, global context. She thinks these words mean understanding issues from multiple perspectives and using those skills to find creative solutions that bridge distances, cultures and opinions.
“I think a lot about writing skills, analyzing skills, problem solving skills, communication skills,” Link said. “Having lived outside of the country for the last five and a half years, I’ve learned a lot and thought a lot about what it means to communicate with different people of different backgrounds and different ideas and different understandings of how the world works.”
She hopes to bring these skills and perspectives into her work at Allegheny as president, a position she is “thrilled” to begin.
“There are lots of different perspectives here,” Link said. “There are lots of different ideas about what the college might be, what it could be, what the community could be, and I think all of us together can work to find solutions that will work both for Allegheny and for the surrounding area.”
One of the reasons why Link was drawn to Allegheny, she said, was because of its strength and ability to survive the “very complicated, changing landscape of higher education.”
In Link’s eyes, Allegheny can be a true leader in the conversation surrounding the value in a liberal arts education, specifically in the humanities.
Allegheny, Link said, has taken the time to do some “really hard thinking.” She referenced Provost and Dean of the College Ron Cole and said he has played a key role in evaluating the value of an Allegheny education and its strengths.
“Because Allegheny has done some really hard thinking, I feel like they’re in a position that many, many other institutions are not,” Link said. “To move forward, to really drive the conversation that will change how people perceive the liberal arts and liberal arts education move forward.”
To Link, the value of an education goes beyond being successful in a career or personal success. Instead, she said it is dependent on the success of “our world.”
“We need broad-based thinkers. We need interdisciplinary thinkers,” Link said. “We need people who understand how to bridge gaps and how to make connections, and all of that comes from the exact type of education which Allegheny offers.”
In a quickly changing world, Link thinks educational institutions need to teach students skills, how to gain skills and how to learn.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be the one to help collaborating with so many colleagues in this room and across the campus to help drive that dialogue, to help drive Allegheny to the forefront,” Link said. “… There is a great story to this institution, and it just needs to be told more broadly because it’s doing great things, and it needs to be recognized as such.”
Moving from Rome to Meadville, Link said, is a transition she is looking forward to.
Link attended the community Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Dinner sponsored by the United Faith Fellowship Church of God on Monday, Jan. 22, with President James Mullen. She said the event was a “great introduction to what being part of Meadville and part of Allegheny” represents.
As president, Link wants to better the relationship between the Allegheny and Meadville communities.
“I know that there are great relationships with the local community, but those can be strengthened,” Link said.
Link described her leadership style as being “what you see is what you get.”
Describing herself as “pretty transparent” and “accessible,” Link said she tries to listen to differing opinions when it comes to making decisions in a “collaborative” and “team-based” manner.
Overall, Link said she does not have concrete plans for institutional changes in mind yet; however, she is eager to begin her work as president.
“I am not naive to think this isn’t going to be the hardest job I’ve ever had, but it is going to be the most fun,” Link concluded.