After a comprehensive nationwide search that attracted a deep and talented candidate pool, Dr. Ellen Goldey has been named the next Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the College at Centre College. Her appointment begins June 4.
Currently, she is Dean of the College of the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College (WHC) of Florida Atlantic University. Over her impressive career, Goldey has built a record of accomplishment both in and outside of the classroom, earning a reputation as a teacher-scholar and administrator who places a premium on creating a collaborative, creative and inclusive culture.
Most recently, she has tackled issues of enrollment, diversity and resource development at WHC as part of an open and transparent long-range strategic planning initiative.
“What impressed me above all else,” said Centre President John Roush, “is Ellen’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences. Her strengths in teaching, scholarship and administrative service will serve our campus well.”
Goldey will be joined at Centre by her husband, Dr. Byron McCane, a scholar of ancient religion and an archaeologist who has excavated sites in Rome, Jordan and Israel.
“When we set foot on Centre’s campus,” Goldey said of their visit for her campus interview, “we felt a sense of homecoming.”
In reference to the College’s bicentennial celebration this year, Goldey added, “As Centre steps into its third century, I am deeply honored to be serving in this leadership role.”
A published expert in the field of developmental neurotoxicology who worked as a toxicologist with the EPA prior to her academic career, Goldey is also a sought-after guest speaker on the topics of STEM education and science curriculum reform.
Goldey’s passion for the liberal arts began as a student at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where she earned her B.S. in biology. After her undergraduate studies, Goldey returned to her hometown of Oxford, Ohio, where she completed her graduate work at Miami University, earning an M.S. in zoology and Ph.D. in zoology and ecology.
She eventually served for two decades on the faculty at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. There, she earned tenure, served as chair of the biology department and was appointed the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Biology.
Beyond being highly passionate, Goldey describes herself as a “fierce advocate” for the liberal arts.
In testimony last year before the Florida Senate’s Education Committee, she explained that challenging societal issues “like poverty, injustice and climate change cannot be resolved by any single field of study or simplified approach. Because these problems are complex,” she said, “they demand breadth of knowledge, contextual understanding and active engagement with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”
She concluded, “Tackling the big questions of our time requires wisdom, and wisdom starts with a liberal arts education.”
Matthew Hallock, professor and chair of the dramatic arts program, chaired the search committee and was immediately impressed with Goldey’s personal warmth and her interpersonal skills.
“It was clear from the start that Ellen places a high value on relationships and will work to create a culture of connection, openness and transparency,” he said. “I anticipate she will be very intentional about promoting collegiality, which has long been a part of the Centre tradition.”
Hallock was also struck by Goldey’s passion for interdisciplinary approaches to education, especially between the sciences and the arts.
As a member of the search committee, Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies Dina Badie also noticed these as well as numerous other strengths.
“First, Ellen is a charismatic and effective communicator who genuinely respects a free marketplace of ideas, listens to all stakeholders and works to create shared visions,” Badie said. “Second, as a ‘fierce advocate’ of the liberal arts, she supports the values of cross-disciplinary inquiry and collaborative teaching as a faculty member and administrator.”
But it’s the combination of these two strengths, Badie concludes, that make Goldey an ideal leader “who will build bridges on campus and communicate the value of a Centre education beyond it.”
As a Centre alumnus and now faculty member himself, Associate Professor of English John Kinkade appreciates how Goldey understands the transformative power of small liberal arts colleges like Centre.
“In particular, Ellen values the human connections that nurture academic and intellectual values that are most crucial to our mission,” said Kinkade, a member of the search committee. “She also champions the liberal arts while understanding the challenges that colleges like Centre face and has an excellent record as a strong leader who helps make academic communities thrive.”
Goldey’s many honors include leadership fellowships with PULSE (Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education) and SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities).
While at Wofford, she was honored as faculty member of the year, won the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Association of African American Students and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also helped secure outside grant funding totaling nearly $1.5 million from sources such as the National Science Foundation, Teagle Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.
In addition to 10 research publications on toxicology in peer-reviewed journals, Goldey has dozens of invited presentations and workshops to her credit, and on topics such as leadership for equity and inclusion in STEM, embedding high-impact practices in science courses, pluralism as a goal for the global century, and using big problems to reveal the big picture.
Goldey has also participated in program reviews at numerous colleges, including Allegheny, Beloit, Grinnell, Kenyon and Meredith.
Prior to her official arrival in June, Goldey plans to attend the spring Centre College Board of Trustees meeting, April 11-12.
by Michael Strysick
March 6, 2019