|October 25, 2005|
Stephen C. Ainlay named 18th president of Union College
Stephen C. Ainlay
Stephen Charles Ainlay, vice president for academic affairs and professor of sociology and anthropology at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., has been named the 18th president of Union College, it was announced by Stephen J. Ciesinski '70, chair of Union College's Board of Trustees.
Ainlay is a sociologist with a distinguished record as a teacher, scholar and administrator. He has been a professor at Holy Cross since 1982, and a dean since 1996.
Ainlay, who was selected after an extensive national search, is to assume the presidency in June 2006. He succeeds Roger Hull, who served 15 years before stepping down last June. James Underwood, professor emeritus of political science, is serving as interim president.
"Stephen Ainlay is a highly respected academic leader who has the credentials and experience to bring Union College to a new level of excellence," said Ciesinski. "He is uniquely qualified to lead this College as it becomes a progressive pioneer through initiatives such as the Minerva Houses, Converging Technologies and undergraduate research. Throughout his remarkable career, he has demonstrated that he shares both our strong commitment to the traditional liberal arts and our passion for innovation. I am delighted to welcome Dr. Ainlay as President-elect, and I commend Trustee Frank Messa '73 and the rest of the members of the Presidential Search Committee for a job well done."
"Stephen was the unanimous first choice among a stellar list of candidates who were attracted to Union College," said Messa. "Through his vast experience as an academic and administrator and his respect for Union's commitment to excellence in higher education, he impressed the members of the committee as the ideal person to become Union's 18th president. I thank the members of our search committee who worked tirelessly to find such a fine leader as Stephen."
"On behalf of the faculty, I am pleased to welcome Stephen to Union," said Therese McCarty, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. "Along with an impressive academic background and extensive administrative experience, he has the dedication to a liberal arts education, to diversity, and to community that are necessary to make Union an even more exciting place for students and faculty to learn and teach."
"I am deeply honored to have been asked to serve as the 18th president of Union College," Ainlay said. "Union has long been one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the United States and, throughout its illustrious history, contributed in so many ways to the national conversation on higher education. Thanks to the remarkable stewardship of the institution, it is poised to do even more. I look forward to working with the trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni/ae of the college to ensure that the educational experience at Union is unsurpassed. Together, I hope we share the Union story and thereby help guide educational innovation nationwide."
Ainlay, 54, joined College of the Holy Cross in 1982 as assistant professor of sociology. He was promoted to associate professor in 1987 and to full professor in 1993.
A native of Indiana, Ainlay earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Goshen College, and both his master's and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. He is married to Judith Gardner Ainlay and they have two boys, Jesse and Jonathan. Jesse is a 2005 graduate of Holy Cross, and Jonathan is a student at the University of Arizona.
As a scholar, his projects have ranged from investigations of blindness, aging, spirituality and various aspects of Mennonite life, all aimed at better understanding the ways in which people find meaning in their lives. His first book, Day Brought Back My Night, explores how people who experience blindness later in life make sense of the disruptions in their physical and social worlds. His most recent book, Mennonite Entrepreneurs, examines the ways that people understand their own accomplishments in the face of a religious community that has frowned upon material success, especially in the world of business.
He edited (with John Roth and Fred Kniss) Mennonites and Conflict, a special issue of the "Mennonite Quarterly Review." He also edited (with James Davison Hunter) a collection of essays, Making Sense of Modern Times: Peter L. Berger and the Vision of Interpretive Sociology. He is preparing a book, The Drift Toward Modernity: Mennonite Seminary Education and the Search for Community. Additionally, he edited (with Gaylene Becker and Lorita Coleman) The Dilemma of Difference: A Multidisciplinary View of Stigma.
He has published a number of articles and book reviews related to his research areas in such journals as the Journal of Social Issues, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Journal of Gerontology. He is a frequent presenter at conferences of scholars and academic administrators.
His teaching has complemented his scholarly interests. As a professor, he regularly taught courses in the Sociology of Knowledge, Self and Society, Aging and Society and the Sociology of Religion.
As an administrator, he served as director of the college's Gerontology Studies program, chair of the department of sociology and anthropology, and director of Holy Cross's Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies. He was named Dean of the College after a national search in 1996. Two years later, he was promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.
His college service assignments have included department chair and membership on most of the college's major faculty committees. He served as director of Holy Cross's Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies, which houses all transdepartmental programs such as International Studies, Women's Studies, African American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Gerontology Studies, the College Honors Program and the Washington D.C. and local internship programs.
Active in a number of professional associations, he has seized opportunities to participate in national conversations that have improved Holy Cross's reputation among national liberal arts institutions. He is a board member and vice chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD). In this capacity he has also served as the program chair for ACAD's national meeting, which is held annually in association with the meeting of American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). He also serves on the Chief Academic Officers Committee of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium and has served on the Consortium's Board. He has also served on the Board of the Lilly Fellows Program.
He has served on a number of community boards, including the Board of Incorporators for the Age Center of Worcester, the Advisory Board for the Executive Office of Elder Affairs for the City of Worcester, the Council on Aging for the Town of Holden, the Worcester Office of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, the Audio-Journal-Radio Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Educational Advisory Board of Worcester Home Care Services. He was awarded the Jaycees Outstanding Young Leader Award and has been active in the 1st Congregational Church of Holden.
Among his fellowships, he was a visiting scholar at St. Edmund's College in Cambridge University; Batchelor (Ford) Special Faculty Fellow at Holy Cross (in support of a research leave); and summer fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, Calif. He also held a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University's Mental Health Training Program.
He has received research grants from the Lilly Endowment, the National Institute of Aging and the National Institutes of Health. He received the John Horsch Award for best essay on Mennonite history ("The 1920 Seminary Movement) from the Historical Committee of the Mennonite Church.
He has held research consulting positions with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind.
During several recent presidential transitions at Holy Cross, Ainlay has played a key role in fundraising for the college's $175 million campaign, working with alumni clubs and individual donors; and he developed the rationale for a new academic building and prepared for strategic planning exercises by the board of trustees.
He has been involved in the construction of several new buildings including the renovation of the biology facilities; an academic building that houses three departments, academic support services and the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture; and the planning for a new building for physics and chemistry.
At Holy Cross, he has helped to enrich students' lives outside the classroom by developing co-curricular community-based service and learning programs, and providing meaningful social alternatives to forms of student culture that lead to self-destructive behavior.
He has led efforts to diversify the student body and faculty through recruiting and by creating and sustaining a supportive environment. Alumni gifts have supported increased staffing in admissions to recruit minority students, and he has made diversity a top priority in faculty hiring.
Ainlay joins Union College as it nears the halfway point of its $200 million "You Are Union" campaign. Recent gifts include an anonymous $2 million gift to renovate Alumni Gym into a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a $1.5 million commitment from James '66 and John '74 Taylor to transform North Colonnade into a new music facility that includes a lecture/recital hall, classrooms, practice rooms, offices and music library.
The College is in the second year of its Minerva Houses, which blend the intellectual, social and residential spheres of the College. All students and faculty are affiliated with a Minerva, and each is a center of out-of-classroom learning, service and leadership.
Union has made a strong commitment to Converging Technologies, which focuses on creative thought from engineering and the liberal arts on new ideas that are changing the landscape of global society. These ideas, which spill across disciplinary boundaries, will define innovation in the 21st century. Students engage in courses, programs and research in such emerging interdisciplinary fields as bioengineering, nanotechnology, pervasive computing, and neuroscience.