Over the last two years, three people have filled the role as the college’s provost and dean of the college.
One individual retired after a 15-year tenure, another filled in as an interim provost and now, Lori Kay Schroeder is two months in to the position after joining the college in July.
A career in higher education is nothing new to Schroeder, who has worked at liberal arts colleges comparable to Franklin College throughout her entire professional career.
Schroeder started out as an English professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Shortly after, she continued her lifelong pursuit of education, teaching English at University of Illinois, University of Denver and Knox College.
After 14 years of teaching English at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, Schroeder became the associate dean of the college at the school. She held this position for seven years.
Once her last of three daughters started college, Schroeder said it was time to add a chapter as a dean and provost to her career.
But the place she moved on to had to be just right.
The Hoosier native and Purdue University graduate knew of Franklin College before she applied for the position and was excited about the possibility of moving back to her home state.
“They brought me to the campus for an interview, and I just loved the people here,” Schroeder said. “The students, the faculty and the staff were just really warm and really good at what they do. I could tell that right away, too.”
After completing the interview process, Schroeder said Franklin College felt like the right match, and she was glad the school felt she was the right match.
When the college announced Schroeder’s appointment, President Thomas Minar said he was certain Schroeder would be a good match for the school.
“While at Knox, she has demonstrated great leadership of the faculty as a department chair and associate dean of the college, created new programs and initiatives from the ground up—leading to greater student success—and held key roles in working with college administrators,” Minar said in the announcement.
During her time at Franklin, Schroeder said she would like to see students realize they are attending a first-rate institution, despite it being a small school.
She also said she wants students to understand that their time in college is a chance to encounter new opportunities, hoping to introduce future programs to accomplish this.
Finally, she said she hopes to increase the school’s diversity on a larger scale.
“I would like to really see the level of diversity grow, and not just in terms of race or ethnicity,” she said. “But in terms of people from a variety of walks of life.”
Schroeder said learning how other people view the world helped her throughout her career. The college’s study abroad program plays an important role in this, but she said the school could take additional steps.
“Also having people from different walks of life, different areas of the country, different parts of the world and different viewpoints on the world all in one place is really how you create that next layer of education which is beyond just your classroom learning,” Schroeder said.
As both an educator and a parent, Schroeder has advice for students navigating the difficulties of college life.
“Don’t use every little setback as a catastrophe that chops away at your self-confidence,” she said. “Everybody—no matter who you are—is going to have moments where you feel like, ‘I don’t belong here,’ or ‘I don’t belong in college.’”
Schroeder encourages any student who feels this way to take advantage of the college’s available resources and surround themselves with supportive people, even if it includes a visit to her office.
“I don’t want students to feel like the provost is a removed or remote person,” Schroeder said. “I miss students because I don’t work with students as much as I used to. So if they ever want to stop in, I would love to see students.”