Linda McMillin will transition from her role as provost to return to the faculty at the end of this academic year, after serving Susquehanna for more than 29 years. She earned a Ph.D. in medieval history from the University of California and taught history at Susquehanna. As provost, she led the faculty’s development of SU’s learning goals and innovative Central Curriculum. She helped to hire more than two-thirds of the current faculty, a legacy that will strengthen the university well into the future. Following a fall sabbatical, she will become a Degenstein chair, teach in the leadership minor and continue assisting with professional development.
Q: To what do you attribute Susquehanna’s culture of innovation?
A: Susquehanna’s long tradition of combining a classic liberal arts focus with an emphasis on pragmatic education has allowed us to always think about both broad intellectual trends and practical ways to impact the world—to achieve, lead and serve. Our faculty and staff are always looking for new ways to meet the ever-evolv-ing needs of our students. It’s impressive how the SU community embraces experi-mentation. We’ve been fortunate to have the resources to support new ideas and the flexibility to welcome change.
Q: How do you see the university evolving to meet students’ and society’s future needs?
A: We continue to hire diverse and talented faculty and staff. And then, we let them do their magic with students! A primary example of faculty- and staff-led innovation is our GO program in which students cultivate the ability to work and live in cross-cultural environments. A second one is the Center for Environmental Education and Research, which is fast becoming a hub of collaborative work in sustainability. Additionally, our Center for Teaching and Learning supports ongoing innovation in pedagogy—from digital tools to project-based learning to expanded approaches for making classrooms as inclusive as possible.
Q: How has your love of history influenced your role as provost?
A: As a historian, I believe that the stories we tell each other about the past create our capacity to imagine the future. It is important that we understand our past—traditions stemming from a liberal arts core, a pragmatic spirit, a Lutheran heritage, a Pennsylvania river—and not forget the ways in which we have provided an outstanding education to countless alums. We want to pull those threads forward even as we imagine new ways to meet students’ needs into the next century.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your sabbatical and new role at SU?
A: I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom and spending more time with students. I am excited about our leadership minor, created by my husband, Dr. Jeff Whitman, before he retired. In the fall, I’ll be working with the Office of Leadership and Engagement to integrate our classroom work with the many cocurricular leadership opportunities students have. I’m also looking forward to having more time to row on the Susquehanna River and to spending more time with my three—soon to be four—grandchildren.