CEDAR RAPIDS – On July 1, 2013, David McInally will become Coe College’s 15th president.
Gene Henderson, chairman of the school’s presidential search committee, announced the appointment at an all-campus meeting Friday afternoon at the Clark Alumni House to a standing-roo- only audience of more than 100.
McInally will succeed current President James Phifer, who has led Coe since 1995 and last year announced his plan to retire. Friday’s crowd marked the news with a standing ovation, an act they repeated once McInally completed his short speech.
The college’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday morning to approve McInally, who is currently the executive vice president and treasurer at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., capping off a nearly yearlong search to replace Phifer. The applicant pool included approximately 100 people from 34 states, Washington and Canada.
“(McInally) had the broadest and deepest experience, the kind of experience we’re looking for to guide us into the next years at Coe,” Henderson said.
McInally also has served as the assistant dean of students, dean of students, secretary of the college and vice president for finance and planning at Allegheny College, his employer since 1986. His wife, Janice, is director of donor relations, and their children, Will and Susannah, attend the college.
“There were probably only a few schools that could take me away from Allegheny,” McInally said. “Coe is such a powerful magnet for me. … Coe is exactly where I want to be.”
He named the student-centered atmosphere and focus on academic excellence as two factors drawing him to the position.
Trustees and members of the search committee were quick to praise outgoing President Phifer for his successes, which include increasing the college’s enrollment. When he retires in June 2013, Phifer will close out a 18-year career with the college.
“Dr. Phifer and his staff have been extremely successful,” said Dave Carson, a member of Coe’s board and the search committee.
Even though Coe celebrated Thursday night raising $90 million during its fundraising campaign, McInally and Henderson noted the struggles higher education will face in the future.
“Liberal arts education is under attack. The economic model is under attack,” Henderson said. “Decisions will have to be made for how to invest our resources. … We feel David McInally has the vision and experience to lead us.”
Though McInally is looking forward to building on Phifer’s success, one of the new president’s main goals is to raise the school’s profile.
“There are probably a lot of high school students who would do well at Coe,” he said. “We just need to make sure they know about it.”