DONALDSON – Retirement didn’t last very long for Dr. Kenneth Zirkle. This week he takes over as the interim president of Ancilla College.
“I had to break it to my family carefully. My wife and daughters all thought I would take some time off, but the opportunity at Ancilla was one I couldn’t pass up,” Zirkle said.
The retirement this summer of Ron May left a gap at the college that was filled when the board of trustees sought an interim president to step in as the college’s ninth president. Zirkle, who retired as the chief academic officer at Mercyhurst University North East last fall, was approached to step in at Ancilla.
The one year appointment is an interesting assignment for the Pennsylvania native. “Ancilla is a remarkable school serving a diverse set of communities here in northern Indiana. This is the best kind of challenge. This year I will work with the faculty, staff and trustees to move the institution forward while they search for a permanent president. Even in one year we can continue to do great things,” he said.
Zirkle brings decades of executive experience to his term at Ancilla. His career spanned several universities in different states including the State University of New York , University of Findley (Ohio), Becker College (Massachusetts), Post University (Connecticut), and Mercyhurst University (Pennsylvania).
“I’ve had success building programs at institutions serving the same types of students that Ancilla does. The beauty of a small college in your community is the strength of it as a resource for everyone. Adult students looking to change their careers, high school students looking to start early and build a college transcript, and traditional high school grads all have real options at Ancilla,” Zirkle said.
Zirkle’s educational background is just as deep. His own college journey began in Pennsylvania at Edinboro State College, and graduate work continued at Syracuse, Rutgers, Harvard, and Penn State where he earned his doctorate.
“I grew up and still live on a farm in northwest Pennsylvania. My wife Chris is there and this year will be a little stretch as I visit her and she visits me here,” he said.
“Ancilla College has a strong mission to provide higher education and support for learning to everyone in the region. That has been a lifetime goal of mine and part of what I have done at every place I’ve been honored to work at,” Zirkle said.