Office of the President

Allegheny Gold Seal

Reflections on a Year of Community and Accomplishment

As the 2023-2024 academic year draws to a close, we celebrate accomplishments and successes this week with the Scholars Symposium and Honors Convocation symbolizing academic excellence at Allegheny, the Student Leadership Awards, the Senior Student-Athlete Celebration, and the groundbreaking ceremony for the St. Moritz Center for Innovation at Reis Hall. We will also celebrate when we honor the Class of 2024 during our Commencement ceremony. We have good reasons to be proud!

Around this time, I tend to reflect on the arc of the academic year. As with most years, I recall moments of joy and success for students, faculty, and staff as individuals and teams. Over time, I have come to understand the importance of celebrating those moments of success. I also understand the importance of acknowledging the challenges and losses we have endured within and outside of our campus community. At these times, I have witnessed the Allegheny community’s resilient response as we provide support for one another and stand together in times of need. Community matters.

Beyond our campus community, I cannot reflect on this year without thinking of global communities that are experiencing loss and hardship. Absorbing such news day-to-day, I ask myself what can we do? What are we empowered with? As part of a college community, I am drawn to our purpose of education – we are empowered to learn, to seek to understand, assess, and share ideas and viewpoints so that we can gain multiple perspectives. We engage and communicate with evidence-based reasoning. We value listening as part of communicating, to learn from one another, and we do so in a safe and respectful environment. In short, a college campus is a place that ought to foster critical thinking. As one faculty member shared with me earlier this year, “We regard it as our responsibility as educators to help students understand difficult issues facing the world, as well as to model the possibility of an academic conversation based on expertise on issues.”

In the face of global challenges, I have been proud of the actions of the Allegheny community which model our purpose and values as an institution of higher education. In response to the violence and growing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, members of our faculty led town halls in the fall and spring where I learned about the complexities of political history and religion in this region and was reminded how the words the media chooses to report on events can influence how we perceive and understand what is happening. I learned the stark facts of famine and the long-term implications for health and well-being exacerbated by lack of even basic medical care and nutrition. In a recent conversation with Allegheny students, I was reminded of the impact that loss of education in the region has on this and future generations. This spring I am learning about cultural identities as well as the effects of displacement and violence in the region from student displays, art installations, and events in the Campus Center and Gator Quad. In the fall and spring, I appreciated student members of Hillel and the Islamic Cultural Association, in partnership with the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, inviting members of the Allegheny community to come together in fellowship and peace at the Prayer and Meditation House. Likewise, I have learned much about the courage and resilience of Ukrainian students through rallies and exhibits on our campus, including the “Unissued Diplomas” exhibition last year in the Campus Center and this year in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

So, what can we do with knowledge and understanding? We can share well-informed ideas through freedom of expression; we can model ethical and responsible behavior as global citizens; we can lobby our elected representatives who have the responsibility to make change; we can create a space to gather, to talk, to listen, and to exchange ideas; and we can use what we learn to strive for peace and reject violence.

I know that these and other global crises, along with national events, extend beyond academic examination, personally affecting members of our community and reaching far beyond Allegheny’s campus. I also know, from my 34 years at Allegheny – as a student, member of the faculty, parent of an Allegheny graduate, as Provost, and now as President – community matters.

Our Statement of Community upholds an inclusive, respectful, and safe learning community that promotes the free exchange of ideas. These words are vitally important to us and I am committed to these ideals – Allegheny is a place where freedom of expression for our community is protected and where hate and violence against individuals or groups is not tolerated. I have seen this exemplified on our campus throughout the year: our community in action.

During the Scholars Symposium this week I had the joy of listening to students across academic areas speak eloquently about complex social, political, and scientific issues, expressing their passions and, importantly, drawing evidence-based conclusions and offering next steps or solutions. Each student acknowledged faculty and/or staff who were their mentors, instilling in them confidence, curiosity, and critical thinking. This is what we do at Allegheny College. I value our Allegheny education and I am committed to lifelong learning as part of our wider community. I look forward to celebrating this Allegheny community when we honor the Class of 2024 at this year’s Commencement ceremony. Our work to strengthen our community across campus will continue in the fall as we welcome new and returning students. I look forward to beginning the arc of a new academic year at an institution of academic excellence, where community matters.

Dr. Ron Cole ’87

Our Strategic Pathway

The Board of Trustees, in February 2023, endorsed a pathway for the College that will allow us to chart a vibrant future for Allegheny as we affirm our commitment to the liberal arts and continue evolving to meet the needs of today’s students.


About the President

President Cole has a deep history with Allegheny having served as the provost and dean of the college and as a faculty member in the geology department, as well as being an alumnus. He is a nationally recognized speaker on campus leadership, transformational change, community engaged learning, and the value of the liberal arts.