Pomona College President David Oxtoby announced his plan to take a three-month sabbatical Feb. 28. Starting in September, Oxtoby will conduct research in chemistry and issues in higher education at the University of Cambridge while Dean of the College Cecilia Conrad serves as acting president.
“I started thinking about a sabbatical in September when I was in England for a series of alumni events,” Oxtoby said.
Oxtoby’s contract allows for a sabbatical after his sixth year as president. Now in his ninth year at Pomona, Oxtoby deferred his leave in order to be on campus during the beginning of the college’s Daring Mind fundraising campaign, he said.
“The campaign started later than I expected,” he said. “And now we have a complete senior staff and each person has at least a year of experience.”
In Cambridge, Oxtoby will join a colleague’s chemistry research group and spend time reading and writing about education.
“I get asked more and more to give talks and write articles about higher education,” he said.
Last summer, Oxtoby published an article on the role of the creative and performing arts in a liberal education, and he is scheduled to give a talk at Colby College in the spring.
Conrad said she doesn’t have many new plans for her stint as president and will instead spend the three months “moving along projects” that are already in the works, including the construction of a new arts building and the renovation of Millikan.
“We have a plan and I’ll be working on it,” she said.
Sociology Professor Jill Grigsby and Psychology Professor Nicole Weekes will join Associate Dean Jonathan Wright in assuming some of Conrad’s current responsibilities.
Conrad said she knew that Oxtoby was planning on taking a sabbatical when she was hired to work at Pomona three years ago. Although she is prepared to be the acting president, she has no longterm presidential aspirations, she said.
“I enjoy the curriculum and the faculty, and running the academic mission of the college,” she said.
Oxtoby will be on campus the first three weeks of the fall semester before he goes abroad.