Link leaves midweek

Cole appointed interim president

Acting President of Allegheny College Ron Cole, ’87, and former President Hilary Link at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Watershed Conservation Research Center on May 8. At the time, Cole was serving as Provost and Dean of the College.

Hilary Link has left the institution, according to an email sent to the campus community on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
A press release by the college confirmed Link’s departure and announced that former Provost and Dean of the College Dr. Ron Cole, ’87, will serve as interim president effective immediately.
Link was unavailable for comment.
“It has been an honor to serve as Allegheny College’s first female president,” Link stated in the release. “I will forever be grateful for the experience to work with so many wonderful people, and I will continue to root for Allegheny’s success.”
Link started her tenure as president in 2019 and guided Allegheny through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want everyone to know that I was here during the pandemic too,” Cole said. “I had the privilege of working alongside (Link) and came away with many lessons learned.”
Although Cole did not provide details about Link’s departure, he emphasized that the decision came due to “personal and professional considerations,” as the release states.
Cole addressed the possibility that the recent charge of discrimination filed by former Associate Professor of Chinese Xiaoling Shi could have been factors in Link’s resignation.
“It is natural in a moment of transition that possible reasons to (explain) uncertainties arise around the community,” Cole said. “These are simply rumors and only (Link) knows her reasons. I, personally, was not fully aware of this happening.”
Cole agreed that this change is sudden and unsettling to some.
“I was given a short amount of time to consider the Board of Trustees’ request for me to come in as president,” Cole said. “But for me, this decision was one I didn’t need to think too deeply about. I’ve long been passionate about Allegheny.”
Cole has been a memberof the Allegheny community since 1983, when he matriculated as a student. After graduating in 1987, he returned as a faculty member in 1994.
For the past seven years, Cole has served as the college’s Provost and Dean of the College.
ASG Chief of Staff Ray Colabawalla, ’25, believes that Cole is the appropriate replacement for Link.
“(Cole) knows the school very well and is actively involved with student activities,” Colabawalla said. “I respect (Link) for managing a demanding role and guiding the school, but we must move forward and focus on tailoring a working relationship with Cole.”
Colabawalla added that he is excited about working with Cole, citing Cole’s adaptability when interacting with the student body.
“One thing (Cole) has always been good at is communicating with students and groups on campus,” Colabawalla said. “I do think that Cole will bring unique skills to the role and do a good job.”
Cole emphasized his focus on community building and student success.
“I admired (Link’s) dedication to holistic student success and will continue to prioritize it as president,” Cole said. “It is important to me to build a community based on trust and purpose.”
Although being president is not something that Cole directly vowed to do when he initially entered higher education, he does have a passion for leadership.
“I’m not looking for a job, I’m looking for a mission,” Cole said. “I don’t want to fill a position, I want to do service.”
Cole understands the uncertainty among the student body caused by the departure of Link and other recent changes.
As a result, Cole hosted two informational sessions for students on Sept. 21 and 22.
“The purpose of these sessions (was) to, first, assure everyone that everything is in order,” Cole said, “and, secondly, to connect with the community.”
Saron Agaze, ’26, said that Link’s departure is impactful not only on the college as a whole but on individuals.
“It was empowering to see a female as president of the college,” Agaze said. “It’s just disappointing because it seems the college is regressing in its diversity and inclusion.”
Agaze added that Link’s sudden departure does not restore her faith in the future of Allegheny.
“Although I’m still a freshman, I’m informed of all the rapid staff and administrative changes that have occurred in the recent past,” Agaze said. “It doesn’t give the college a great image to be suffering loss after loss … this doesn’t make me confident with being at Allegheny in the future.”
Cole ensured that Allegheny’s credibility will not suffer as a result of this sudden change.
“I am aware that we are deep into the reaccreditation process with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education,” Cole said. “We will be communicating with them to highlight the important changes that have occurred since the completion of our institutional self-study report. (Link’s) departure will not affect the reaccreditation process.”
Cole said that retaining and ensuring the success of current students along with generating the next first-year class is among his top priorities from the onset of his role as president.
Students have been diverse in their response to Link’s departure with some excited for a fresh start and others disappointed at another sudden, unexpected change.
“The beauty of a liberal arts college is that there are a lot of opinions that are up in the air,” Cole said. “I recognize that people will have wide-ranging opinions on me as president, but I truly see the value in them and hope to improve as time goes on.”
Having served as an administrator under both Link and former president James Mullen, Cole is hoping to not only implement his own unique style of leadership, but also utilize the skills he learned from others in the role.
Cole shared that had it not been for proactive and caring staff members and administrators, he would not have made it past his first semester as an Allegheny student.
“My freshman year was filled with challenges that seemed very daunting to me,” Cole said. “I was thankful to have people here who genuinely cared about me, and without them, I would not be here. I hope I can create a similar environment for current students.”