Roanoke College’s next president has an educational and professional background from large universities, but he says all institutions of higher education — regardless of size — face common challenges and should share many similar goals. Frank Shushok, Jr, earned his degrees at large universities, and his work experience is also within those settings. He is currently Vice-President for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, and he learned yesterday he had been selected to lead Roanoke:
Shushok says regardless of size, colleges and universities must think alike in some important ways:
Shushok was selected from more than 100 applicants. He will become Roanoke College’s 12th president when he succeeds Michael Maxey in July.
Statement From Roanoke College: The Roanoke College Board of Trustees has appointed Frank Shushok Jr., Ph.D. the 12th president of Roanoke College. Shushok, current vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech, will succeed Michael C. Maxey, who will retire as president of Roanoke College in July, after serving for 15 years.
Shushok has 30 years of work experience in higher education, the past 13 at Virginia Tech in posts that include associate vice president, senior associate vice president and vice president for Student Affairs. He is also a tenured associate professor of Agricultural Leadership & Community Education at Virginia Tech.
“Throughout the Presidential search, Dr. Shushok inspired us with his spirit, energy and centered dedication to student learning,” said Malon Courts, chairman of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees and a 1992 Roanoke College graduate. “Dr. Shushok’s background aligns with the most important needs of the College, and he understands the value of who we are, our culture, people and traditions, including the importance of our rich Lutheran heritage. He will propel us forward, embracing innovation while respecting history and tradition to make Roanoke College an even greater institution.”
“I am grateful to the entire community who worked hard to find the right leader for our beloved College, especially Presidential Search Committee Co-Chair Kirk Betts. We are all thrilled to welcome Dr. Shushok to Roanoke College,” said Courts.
Shushok said he was drawn to Roanoke College for the cherished convictions held by the institution. “Roanoke College is a beautiful community deeply committed to students and their holistic learning,” he said. “Everywhere at Roanoke College, there are structures and individuals committed to a kind of deep learning that emboldens the human spirit, strengthens public discourse, and becomes a true north for what matters most. I admired this community the moment I discovered it, and I am honored to join the faculty and staff in pursuit of such a worthy calling. I am humbled by the Board of Trustees’ faith in me to contribute to this legacy that has been in motion since 1842.”
As Virginia Tech’s vice president for student affairs, Shushok provides overall leadership for one of the nation’s largest student affairs divisions, where he directs 25 departments and units. Shushok leads the maintenance and renovation of more than 30 percent of Virginia Tech’s physical campus, is a member of the president’s cabinet, and serves on many other boards and organizations at the university. He is especially known for his passion for integrating academic and student life and championing the role of faculty in the holistic development of students.
“As a national thought leader in residential education and student well-being, Virginia Tech has been fortunate to have Frank Shushok as our vice president for student affairs,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “He exemplifies the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and that will be a great benefit to the faculty, staff, and students of Roanoke College. We appreciate his dedicated service, and while he will be greatly missed at Virginia Tech, higher education in the Commonwealth has gained a talented new leader and we wish him all the best.”
Prior to his work at Virginia Tech, Shushok served at his alma mater, Baylor University, in several capacities, including dean for student learning and engagement, and associate dean for Campus Living and Learning. While at Baylor and Virginia Tech, Shushok has been a formidable fundraiser, a prolific author, and a passionate partner to underserved and underrepresented student populations. He authored and co-authored multiple in-depth studies, helped bring in millions of dollars in gifts, and led a re-organization that addressed the systemic pattern of residence hall racial segregation.
In 2017, Shushok was named a Fellow of the American Council on Education and took up residency at Wake Forest University, where he focused on fundraising, alumni engagement and enrollment strategy. “Frank Shushok is inquisitive, a great listener, and thinks creatively about educating the whole person, linking the academic life of students to their entire collegiate experience,” said Nathan O. Hatch, president emeritus of Wake Forest University. “I can think of no one better to lead Roanoke College in their aim to help students build lives of meaning and purpose.”
Shushok holds a B.S. in history from Baylor University, an M.A. in higher education and student affairs administration from The Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in higher education policy, planning and analysis from the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Roanoke College Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote on March 21 confirming Shushok follows a five-month nationwide search conducted by a search committee of trustees, faculty, staff and students. Academic Search, a Washington, D.C.-based executive search firm, partnered with the College to conduct the search. The search produced a pool of more than 100 applicants of diverse backgrounds.
“Everywhere at Roanoke College, there are structures and individuals committed to a kind of deep learning that emboldens the human spirit, strengthens public discourse, and becomes a true north for what matters most. I admired this community the moment I discovered it, and I am honored to join the faculty and staff in pursuit of such a worthy calling.”
Frank Shushok Jr., Ph.D.
Michael C. Maxey, 11th president of Roanoke College, is retiring in July. Maxey has been with the College in various roles since 1985, serving as the president since 2007. Under Maxey’s leadership, the College has expanded in many ways, including an increase in diversity of the student body and senior leadership, construction and renovation of 15 buildings, emphasis on experiential learning opportunities for students, and implementation of Roanoke’s focus on assisting students in finding direction and purpose in their lives.
“I am thrilled to welcome President Elect Frank Shushok to the Maroon family,” Maxey said. “Terri and I found Frank and his wife, Kelly, to be a dedicated couple who are excited about the Roanoke College community. What struck me about Frank is how engaging he is and how interested he is in getting to know others. He and Kelly will fit right in at Roanoke College. His commitment to enriching the Roanoke community is clear. The College is in good hands with Dr. Shushok.”
At Roanoke, Shushok will join an institution highly regarded for its curriculum and emphasis on helping students find high-value careers and lives with meaning and purpose. In recent years, Roanoke College has become a top producer of academic scholars including Fulbright, Gilman, Goldwater and Truman awardees. New majors have been created in actuarial science, public health, engineering science, data science, education, creative writing and communication.
Roanoke’s academic programs are designed to help students understand who they are and how they relate to the world. The College produces students who can think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems. With a 13:1 student to faculty ratio and an average class size of 18, Roanoke features small classes and hands-on opportunities for students to work closely with faculty mentors.
“When I learned about Dr. Shushok’s commitment to excellent education for students from diverse educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, and his approach to student learning and campus experiences, it became clear to me that he would be an inspiring leader for Roanoke College,” said Dr. Shannon Anderson, associate professor of sociology, faculty moderator, and member of the Presidential Search Committee. “I believe his engaging and collaborative leadership style will amplify what we do best as a liberal arts college: we help students discover their academic interests and gifts, guide them with our institutional focus on finding purpose, and then watch as they launch into lives with meaning.”
“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Frank Shushok, Jr. as the next president of Roanoke College. Dr. Shushok exhibits passion for the liberal arts, total commitment to student success and the student experience, and a sincere desire to create an inclusive and diverse community in which all members can envision themselves as a part,” said Elizabeth G. McClenney, director of the library, and member of the Presidential Search Committee.
Emily Norton ‘23, former SGA president at the College and the student representative on the Presidential Search Committee, said that Shushok’s warm and genuine demeanor will endear him to Roanoke students. “I think that students will immediately be able to connect with President Elect Shushok and feel his excitement to be a part of our Roanoke community,” Norton said. “I, for one, look forward to working with him and continuing to get to know him as he steps into the presidency. He’s the kind of person you would want to hang out with at Mac and Bob’s, and someone who has a lot of knowledge to share.”
Shushok and his spouse, Kelly, are high school sweethearts who have been married for 30 years. Kelly has served more than 20 years in ministry, most recently as pastor at “edges,” a progressive United Methodist community in Blacksburg. Together, they have three children: Brayden, 22, who is employed at Morgan Stanley and 2021 graduate of Virginia Tech; Christian, 20, a sophomore at Sewanee: The University of the South; and Ivy Anne, 17, a junior at Blacksburg High School.
Additionally, the Shushok family comes to Roanoke College with one lovable and excited pup, Maple — the Maroon!