After five years as president of Edgewood College, and 21 years serving in various leadership roles at the school, Scott Flanagan is leaving for a position as a consultant for a higher education search firm, the college announced Tuesday.
Flanagan, 49, will remain president until the end of August, and will advise Edgewood College through the end of 2019 to help ensure a smooth transition. Mary Ellen Gevelinger, a tenured faculty member at Edgewood, will serve as interim president.
Flanagan said he will miss the Catholic liberal arts college on the Near West Side and the connections he has made with faculty and students there. On the campus of about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Flanagan said he knew many students by their first name.
“It’s an amazing place,” Flanagan said. “I had the chance to connect with a student today ... who walked up to me and said jokingly, ‘You didn’t ask me; I didn’t say you could go!’”
Among Flanagan’s reasons for leaving were excitement over his new career opportunity, concern about continuing to have enough energy and enthusiasm to be Edgewood College’s president into the future and feeling that it was simply “the right time.”
“There’s no one thing,” Flanagan said. “It’s more a sense of, these jobs are really demanding and all-consuming and you have to be all in to do the work well and to do justice to the people that you serve.”
Although Flanagan said he still has the stamina, he knew it wasn’t going to last forever.
In his 21 years at the college, Flanagan oversaw athletics, marketing, diversity and inclusion, and advancement. He also taught in the higher education doctoral program.
His first position at the school was dean of admissions and financial aid in 1998. Flanagan later held leadership positions as executive vice president and vice president for planning and enrollment. He’s been president since 2014.
“I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to call Edgewood College home for so many years,” Flanagan said. “It has been an honor to work with such outstanding colleagues and students.”
Starting in mid-September, Flanagan will be a senior consultant at Academic Search, where he will help colleges and universities conduct searches for deans, presidents and vice presidents. Flanagan said he started conversations about the new opportunity a few months ago.
Flanagan said he is excited that he will be able to work with a variety of campuses, do more projects and have more flexibility. He will stay in Madison.
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Edgewood College Board of Trustees Chair Lucy Keane said Flanagan has accomplished much during his time as president, including overseeing recruitment of a more diverse student body, improvements to class sizes, the addition of three new intercollegiate sports, the introduction of affordable pricing strategies and investments in infrastructure.
“We have been so lucky to have had Scott in the Edgewood College family for as long as we have,” Keane said in a statement.
Keane said Flanagan has left Edgewood in a “strong financial position,” with more reserves and a larger endowment than at any other time in the history of the college.
But Flanagan was less concerned about his accomplishments, and more concerned about the impact he left on people.
“Sometimes people point to what has been done as a legacy — and I hope I’ve done some things that people remember — but I hope that people remember me as a person who put the needs of the college and its students first,” Flanagan said. “A person who was thoughtful and genuine, who acted with integrity, and who helped model the values.”
Flanagan said there are still items on his “to do” list that he wishes he could have gotten done, but he is confident that Gevelinger will be able to take up the mantle.
“She’s gonna be tremendous,” Flanagan said.
Keane said Gevelinger is up to the task of interim president, and that the school “won’t miss a beat.”
Gevelinger has an Ed.D. in educational leadership and was a leader of the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation. Edgewood College is run in the Dominican tradition.
Gevelinger said she wants to continue the work that Flanagan has done.
“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and devote myself to making sure that our students have the best possible college experience in the Dominican tradition,” Gevelinger said in a statement.
Edgewood said it hopes to select a new president by the start of the 2020-21 academic year.