CALGARY – The Board of Governors of St. Mary’s University is pleased to announce that Dr. Sinda Vanderpool will be the University’s fourth President and Vice-Chancellor, and first woman to hold the prestigious position. Dr. Vanderpool currently serves as the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Enrollment Management at Baylor University, a national Christian research university in Central Texas.
“We could not be more delighted that a rigorous, collaborative search processes resulted in an academic leader whose career exemplifies the ideals of equity and inclusion, which are deeply embedded in the ethos of St. Mary’s University,” said Gary Strother, Chair of the Board of Governors. “Dr. Vanderpool brings an extraordinary combination of experience and skills to this pivotal moment in St. Mary’s University’s history and we look forward with great excitement to Dr. Vanderpool’s inspired leadership of St. Mary’s in the years ahead.”
During her tenure at Baylor University, Dr. Vanderpool held various leadership roles with increasing levels of responsibilities over the span of 18 years. Dr. Vanderpool began as a French professor at Baylor and went on to spend two years in administration where she established the professional advisement team for the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and finally assumed the role of Associate Vice Provost for enrollment management. Over the years, Dr. Vanderpool worked collaboratively with the deans of the nine academic colleges and schools across Baylor to enhance enrollment strategy and processes. Under her tenure, the population of undergraduate students increased by 2,100 students while the academic quality, ethnic diversity, and geographical diversity of the undergraduate population all increased simultaneously.
“I am honoured to be joining such a dedicated community of students, faculty and staff who are driven by curiosity and conscience through dynamic academic programming and foundational learning experiences,” said Dr. Vanderpool. “To be the first woman president of this remarkable institution is a privilege and responsibility, and I am excited for the opportunity to reimagine what is possible at St. Mary’s University as we write the next chapter in the life of this amazing institution.”
Tirelessly passionate about standing for what is possible in the lives of students, Dr. Vanderpool has studied underrepresented students coming to college, always curious about how to create cultures and spaces that help all students flourish. She gained the title chief student success officer at Baylor University in 2012 when she began providing leadership directly to a team of professional staff, faculty, and peer mentors all aimed at helping students throughout their college experience. The hub of these activities, the success center, incorporates the first-year experience, disabilities services, and academic advisement in addition to robust academic support initiatives. During the ten years when she served in this role, Dr. Vanderpool built—from the ground up—support services for student veterans, pre-law students, first generation college students, minority students, and low-income students where none had existed previously.
Dr. Vanderpool fell in love with liberal arts learning, and French language & literature in particular, when she attended Davidson College in North Carolina as an undergraduate student. She spent her junior year enrolled as a visiting student at the Faculty des Lettres in Montpellier, France. After earning her bachelor’s degree in French from Davidson, she attended Princeton University in New Jersey where she focused on 16th Century French poetry through the lens of female identity, completing her PhD in 2005.
While Dr. Vanderpool had been consistently interested in questions of faith in her formative years, it was during her time at Princeton that she immersed herself more fully in the Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition and felt an invitation to grow deeper faith roots by becoming a Roman Catholic (2006).
“We are fortunate to have found such an exceptional leader who is sure to inspire our St. Mary’s students, staff, faculty, and larger community. Dr. Vanderpool will progress our legacy of academic excellence while maintaining our foundation in the liberal arts and Catholic intellectual tradition that allows our students to thrive after graduation, find meaningful work and be positive contributors to the common good,” said Bishop William McGrattan, Chancellor of St. Mary’s University. “It was clear during this process that Dr. Vanderpool deeply believes in the mission of St. Mary’s, and under her leadership I know we will continue to foster faith and virtue in St. Mary’s students and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to enter the world engaged in their communities and ready to use their talents in service of others.”
Dr. Vanderpool will begin her five-year tenure on July 1, 2022, succeeding Dr. Gerry Turcotte who has served as President and Vice-Chancellor of St. Mary’s since 2011.