St. Mary's College of Maryland has selected as its new president a dean from a small Oregon college who has Maryland roots, the college announced Wednesday.
Tuajuanda Jordan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of chemistry at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, will take over the job July 1. She will be the public liberal arts college's first black president.
The college's Board of Trustees selected Jordan unanimously. Jordan, 53, is from Forestville in Prince George's County and has a lengthy background in science and academic leadership.
Jordan will take over from interim president Ian Newbould, who has held the post for the academic year. President Joseph R. Urgo asked in June that his contract not be renewed for "personal and professional reasons." The request came weeks after the board found out that admissions for the incoming freshman class were projected to be about 150 below the college's goal of 470 students.
increasing the college's enrollment is Jordan's priority. She called St. Mary's a "well-kept secret" and said it's a bargain compared to other liberal arts colleges on the East Coast.
"At most liberal arts colleges, aside from the upper echelon, you are dealing with enrollment issues," she said. "It's not something that's unique to St. Mary's."
Jordan wants to wait to map out a solution until she has a chance to meet faculty, students and administrators and hear their ideas.
"First, I have to figure out what happened, being an outsider," she said. "Then I have to figure out what we should be doing to grow that enrollment to what is a reasonable level."
"College communities appreciate leadership that is strong, and it's important to be accessible and to be in constant communication with people and to listen to people," she said. "One thing that's really important is treating everybody as a human being and with respect. Some leaders forget about that. It takes everybody to run a college."
Jordan previously was the director of the Science Education Alliance of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase. She went to Lewis and Clark College, which has about 2,100 undergraduates, in 2002. She holds a chemistry degree from Fisk University and a doctorate in biochemistry from Purdue University, and was named a "revolutionary mind" by Seed Magazine in 2009, according to St. Mary's.
Gail Harmon, chair of the college's board of trustees and its presidential search committee, said the selection committee was impressed by Jordan's work at the Howard Hughes institute and liked her "considered" approach.
"She's very aware and supportive of what St. Mary's is and its values as a small liberal arts college, and she's not going to turn that upside down," Harmon said. "I think we're on track right now, and I'm hoping that she brings us to a new level with strategic, incremental changes."
Harmon said the committee interviewed 11 people for the position and thought Jordan was thoughtful and measured, as well as "warm and approachable."
"Some people were very glib and smart, and she thought carefully before she answered any questions," Harmon said. "On campus, she demonstrated she could think on her feet."
The other finalists for the job were Charles Caramello, dean of the graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Kim Mooney, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. Caramello withdrew his name from consideration.