Three years ago, Washington College, like almost every other liberal arts institution in the country, faced some real and perhaps even existential threats. Beyond the overwhelming challenge that the COVID pandemic brought to these schools, Washington College was also facing significant budget shortages, enrollment drops, and the after-effects of almost ten years of troubling leadership turnovers. The pressure on its board of trustees was acute as its members and the school’s faculty set about appointing a new college president in late 2021.
With the appointment of Mike Sosulski as the 31st president of the 10th oldest college in America, Washington College put its faith in a scholar and proven administrator whose lifelong devotion to the value of higher education is evident in his vision for honoring the liberal arts while driving the necessary improvements and innovations needed for a small college in the 21st century.
Beyond the immediate task of surviving the pandemic, Sosulski had to build a new leadership team, end an enrollment slump, and improve town-gown relations.
By all accounts, Sosulski has not only accomplished those objectives but has also done so by strengthening trust and culture. Washington College now has a $350 million endowment, a dramatically improved enrollment forecast, a well-seasoned leadership team, and a sophisticated long-term plan for remaining relevant and sustainable for decades.
Given the uniqueness of this kind of success story, the Spy turned to commentator Craig Fuller, an expert on presidential leadership, having worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W.H. Bush in the White House, to use our long-form interview format to chat with President Sosulski about this dramatic shift for Washington College and his vision for the school as higher education enters perhaps its most challenging era.