Wright, McLaughlin to begin serving as Mitchell College co-presidents

New London — With Mitchell College President Janet Steinmayer leaving to become president of Lesley University, Catherine Wright and Mary-Jane McLaughlin will serve as interim co-presidents, beginning July 1.

Wright is vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. She has been at Mitchell for nearly 40 years, including 16 as chairwoman of the Department of Behavioral Sciences. McLaughln started at Mitchell in 2018 as chief of staff, having previously worked at The Day Publishing Co. for 23 years and then heading human resources at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

"While it may not be typical to have interim co-Presidents, the Board feels strongly that this is right for Mitchell College as we continue on our current path," board Chairman Kevin Hennessy wrote in his May 20 announcement of the board of trustees' selection. "With their complementary skills and backgrounds, Catherine and Mary-Jane are well suited to keep Mitchell's current momentum going."

Hennessy said Wright was key in implementing the Mitchell Ability Model, in which curriculum is based on student abilities, and in changing course loads from 15-credit semesters to shorter 12-credit semesters with "MiniMesters" in between. He cited McLaughlin for her work in developing a multi-year financial plan.

On June 11, Hennessy announced that trustees Peggy Flood and Kim Ruffing will co-chair the search for a permanent president. Flood and Ruffing are parents of Mitchell students, and Flood is a math teacher.

Along with Flood, Ruffing, Wright and McLaughlin, serving on the Presidential Search Committee are three other trustees, an assistant professor of sport and fitness management, a professor of behavioral sciences, the director of advising, the director of dining services and a recent Mitchell graduate.

The committee will meet this summer to establish a search process and timeline.

"We're going to be thoughtful and not rush into it, and we're going to take as much time as we need," Hennessy told The Day in a phone interview Monday. He said the likely scenario is to have a president start between semesters.

The board is also working with an outside search consultant.

"We've got an unbelievable community, and we're going to want someone that fits in, is a cultural fit for our community, so that's someone who values every person, sees the uniqueness that each individual has," Hennessy said. He added, "Some experience with learning differences would be a huge plus, obviously."

e.moser@theday.com

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