A new member will be joining the IC community this July. Dr. Catharine O’Connell will be taking over the position of provost and academic officer for the 2016-17 school year onward. She will be replacing Dean Tobin, who has served as provost of the college for several years now. Both Dean Tobin and her husband, Professor Hochstead, will be retiring at the end of the year.
Dr. O’Connell comes to us from Mary Baldwin College where she has worked for seven years as the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.
In her time before acting as vice president of academics and dean at Mary Baldwin College, Dr. O’Connell graduated with a doctorates in American culture from the University of Michigan. She then went on to teach as an English professor at St. John Fisher College.
When asked about the time Dr. O’Connell spent at their college, Mary Baldwin College’s public relations department had this to say, “You’ll find that she (Dr. O’Connell) is warm, approachable, reasonable, a determined collaborator, and a master at making good things happen. She possesses not only a keen intelligence but also a work ethic second to none.”
Prior to her time at Mary Baldwin, Dr. O’Connell served at Defiance College as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Sporting a background of excelling in excellence, it is little wonder that in a national search for it’s new provost Illinois College found Dr. O’Connell.
To explain the impact this significant change will have as the IC community strives forward, Dr. Chipman has this to say, “Dr. O’Connell brings with her a deep love of the liberal arts along with the entrepreneurial thinking that will be important to realizing Illinois College’s strategic vision and preparing students to Graduate Ready.” This statement fits well with the college’s long-time goal to prepare its students for life after graduation.
Looking at Dr. O’Connells history of success leading academic institutions, students can look forward to another strong leader joining the Illinois College family.
President Farley, who was one of many people on the board which was tasked with finding IC a new provost and dean of academics, when asked to comment on Dr. O’Connell joining the college said, “Dr. O’Connell has displayed an extraordinary record of leadership. IC will continue to expand our reputation as a liberal arts college with a focus on students, visibility, and finances, and we are excited to have Dr. O’Connell working with us on that.” President Farley further confirmed the approval of a work strategy map which will help IC meet those goals. “Dr. O’Connell will be key as a leader in start-up conversations,” President Farley said. “Many plans are already in motion.”
Along with the excitement to welcome a new provost to the college, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the past. “Dean Tobin has a history of exceptional leadership,” President Farley said in her interview, “and the IC community is sad to see her go.”
While thanking Dean Tobin for her work as provost, Illinois College is ready to welcome Dr. O’Connell and strive with her toward future endeavors.
Dakota Roach, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a junior majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing. Dakota is a Student Ambassador, an active member of CEA and SAGE, and is a writer for The Rambler.