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By Oliden Herrera
When longtime Calumet College of St. Joseph President Dr. Lowery announced his retirement last year, it sparked an immediate search for a successor by the college.
The process took six months to complete.
After careful selection from a pool of more than 80 candidates, CCSJ’s Board of Trustees hired as its seventh president in the school’s history, Dr. Amy McCormack, a native of Frankfort, Indiana.
Dr. McCormack, who received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, previously served as the Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration at Dominican University near Chicago, where she also earned her MBA in Finance and Marketing Connections.
I had the opportunity to sit down and do an exclusive Shavings interview. Not only is she well-accredited, I learned that President McCormack is a down-to-earth educator whose main goal is to ensure that students can have the best college experience possible at Calumet College.
Why Calumet College of St. Joseph?
I didn’t know about Calumet College originally.Frankfort is about two hours away so I didn’t know much about Calumet College, unfortunately. Dominican University is a small, private, Catholic institution, so Calumet College holds very similar views and goals as my previous school does. I received an email from the search firm about Calumet College and opened it because it said Whiting, Indiana. I looked at the size of the institution, and I barely thought about it due to the heavy workload I was facing. Then, an old colleague of mine, who serves as a president at an institution in Ohio, told me that she got the same email. Since we had gone through the doctorate program together, I decided to give CCSJ another look.
She sent me an email saying ‘I’m not sure if you’re interested, but knowing this institution, I think you’d be a great fit. Would you be okay with me recommending you to this search firm?’
That’s what made me look into Calumet College again. I read about them and learned they were the only Catholic institution in Northwest Indiana and that they’re the only Hispanic-Serving Institution in the State of Indiana. The mission seemed very familiar to me, and I was attracted by the diversity of the students as well. I immediately began sending my documents to the search firm and the rest is history.
What changes would you like to make at CCSJ?
Number one is to grow enrollment. We have the capacity to serve more students, so we need to have more students here in order to bring down tuition by spreading the cost. In addition to the financial benefits, larger enrollment creates a more enriching college life and provides a diverse learning environment.
The residence halls weren’t ever cancelled, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to build residence halls, but a matter of when they will be built. I am actively working with the City of Hammond to secure the land that is adjacent to the school. [The residence halls] will be a benefit to the Hammond and Whiting area. I have a different vision for the resident halls. They won’t be just a place where students sleep; I see them as integral to our academic mission. So while students sleep there, live there, have fun, build relationships, there’s also a learning component to [the halls].
What advice do you have for students about their education?
Students need the willingness and the openness to learn. But not just subject matter, I think it’s also learning about yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions.
I like to think of higher education as that environment that is really open to exploring, and that doesn’t just mean what happens in the classroom.
I like to say I’m a student all the time, I’m always interested, I’m curious…I feel that I’m a lifelong learner. Sometimes my husband says ‘you’re done going to college’ because I like going to college; I like to learn.
So it boils down to not what you learned in the classroom, but the experiences you’ve gone through that teaches you about yourself?
Yes, but I think it’s a lot about yourself. It will be interesting for me. I hope that I’m able to follow [students] when [they] walk across the stage. I hope there’s something about Calumet College that has shaped the way [students] are.
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Amy McCormack, Ph.D.
Calumet College of St. Joseph
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