Ripon Welcomes First Female President
Andrea Young is set to be the first-ever female president of Ripon College
By Deana Johnson
Andrea Young becomes the first female president of Ripon College history, following president Zach Messitte’s announcement to leave Ripon College after the fall 2021 semester. Young, who is the Vice President for Finance and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Ripon College, will begin her position as interim president beginning in January 2022.
“I am excited, honored, and a little bit nervous about becoming Ripon College’s interim president. I’ve worked at Ripon College since 2011,” she said. “I am a professor in the mathematical sciences department, and the absolute best part about working at Ripon is the students. I have gotten to teach, mentor, do research, play sports, sing in the choir, and do summer theatre with so many Ripon students over the past ten years. Since 2018, I’ve held several senior administrative positions, including the special assistant to the president and liaison to the Board of Trustees, acting VP (vice president) and dean of faculty, and now VP for finance and director of strategic initiatives. I’ve seen the way the institution works from many different angles, and I’m thrilled to continue to support Ripon College in my new capacity.”
Young also paid tribute to Messitte for all the work he has done during his years as president of the institution.
“Over the past 9.5 years, President Messitte has been a tremendous leader of our institution. He has been a talented fund-raiser, he oversaw the building of the Willmore Center and the creation of the Catalyst general education curriculum, and he has been a true champion of Ripon students and employees,” she said. “Ripon has great momentum, a strong leadership team, dedicated faculty and staff, so it is an opportune time to step into the interim president role.”
With regards to being the first woman to serve the role of president here at Ripon College, Young says, “It’s about time! In all seriousness, representation in leadership positions is important; it is important for people from different backgrounds and perspectives to have a voice in decision-making, particularly at an institution of higher education. Again, I’m honored to be the first woman in the role, but I’m sure I won’t be the only for long.”
As interim president, Young “will fulfill all duties of president, which include overseeing the broad operations of the college, serving as a trustee, fund-raising, and telling the great story of what Ripon College has to offer,” she said. “I will continue pursuing ongoing and emerging strategic initiatives, including the Ripon/Marian partnership exploration, potential fund-raising opportunities, and DEI projects. Finally, I will help ensure that we meet key institutional benchmarks on recruitment, retention, COVID health and well-being, and finances.”
With this new position, she is “most looking forward to getting to talk to people—prospective and current students, alumni, donors, employees—about Ripon College and why what we do here is so important to the future. Having been a Ripon College professor for many years, I have experienced first-hand the quality of the education we provide to students. I was a member and eventual chair of the faculty committee that developed and implemented the Catalyst curriculum, and I have seen the way our transformative approach to general education serves our students. I’ve taken students to conferences, written papers with them, shared successes (and failures) with them, cheered them on at athletic and performing arts events—these stories of mine and of every other person who has worked or studied at Ripon demonstrate the value of what we do here. I can’t wait to use my voice to amplify the Ripon narrative.” Young said.
Young plans to attend meetings or events that student organizations are hosting and invites students to meet with her over coffee to discuss what’s happening on campus as she wants to become more active and involved with campus life.