Sinda Vanderpool

New St. Mary’s president focused on growing liberal arts college

By 
  • June 17, 2022

Dr. Sinda Vanderpool begins her tenure as president and vice-chancellor of St. Mary’s University in Calgary next month with a mindset for growth.

“St. Mary’s has such amazing people and students who are attracted to this wonderful Catholic liberal arts education, and I feel like the impact of (St. Mary’s) can be so much greater,” said Vanderpool, who takes over her new role on July 1. “Really my vision is focused on growth of the student body.”

For the past 18 years, Vanderpool ascended through the faculty ranks at Baylor University, a private Christian research institution in Waco, Texas. While at Baylor, Vanderpool was a modern foreign languages instructor, director of advisement for the College of Arts and Sciences, assistant vice provost for academic enrollment management and associate vice provost for academic enrollment management.

Vanderpool helped increase the population of undergraduates at Baylor by 2,100 students while maintaining high academic standards. She also fostered increased ethnic and geographical diversity among the student body. She is now charged to conduct a similar feat with a student population of St. Mary’s, which currently sits at 1,025 pupils.

She first found out about the opening at St. Mary’s when one of her friends at Baylor forwarded the job posting and told her she would be a perfect fit for the position. Her interest was also piqued when another friend who lived in Calgary had great things to say about the Stampede City.

But Vanderpool said there was a singular moment that convinced her that this job would be a good fit and “maybe even something of a calling.”

“It was when I read St. Mary’s mission statement,” she said. “Being in academic administration for 18 years now, I read a lot of mission statements and a lot of times they are very aspirational and sound very beautiful. I found the St. Mary’s mission statement stunning. I was really compelled by the combination of core liberal arts learning while also being rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. And the third aspect where my heart sang is that it is a school that feels engaged with the world and dialogues with culture and actively pursues justice.”

Gary Strother, the chair of St. Mary’s board of governors, offered high praise to Vanderpool.

“We could not be more delighted that a rigorous, collaborative search process 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 Strother in a statement. “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.”

Vanderpool expressed admiration for the President’s Volunteer Team initiative launched by current St. Mary’s president and vice-chancellor Gerry Turcotte, who is moving on to become principal of St. Mark’s College and President of Corpus Christi College at the University of British Columbia beginning on Aug. 1. 

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