Meet the interim president: Dr. Kathryn McClymond

When Dr. Kathryn McClymond joined Oglethorpe University in July 2021 as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, little did she know that in less than two years she would be called on to step into the role of interim president.

As chief academic officer and a member of the president’s senior administrative leadership team, Dr. McClymond oversaw all academic functions of the university, including academic divisions, the Core curriculum, Philip Weltner Library, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, and the offices of the Registrar, Student Success, and Institutional Effectiveness.

That background and understanding of Oglethorpe’s mission and innerworkings positioned her well to assume the mantle of interim president. She is the first woman to serve as president of Oglethorpe, interim or otherwise.

“I look forward to leading the university during the transition, and I appreciate the support of the trustees, the university’s leadership, faculty, staff and students,” Dr. McClymond said. “The strategic plan outlined six priorities that will serve as our roadmap. The future of Oglethorpe is bright, and it is a privilege to serve the university.”

Prior to Oglethorpe, Dr. McClymond was associate dean of Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences at Georgia State University, where she was a faculty member for 22 years.

Dr. Kathryn McClymond, Interim President of Oglethorpe University stands on the quad in front of Lowry Hall

Dr. Kathryn McClymond

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., she received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University. Dr. McClymond is a historian of religions, trained in Hinduism and Judaism, with a research emphasis on comparative religious ritual.

“My mantra during this interim period is ‘steady, focused, forward,’” Dr. McClymond said. “I look forward to building on the foundation of success and the legacy of resilience at Oglethorpe. As we take the next steps into our future, we will continue to work together to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and advance Oglethorpe’s mission of providing teaching excellence in an inclusive learning environment.”

Dr. McClymond is the author of “Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice” (Johns Hopkins University Press) and, most recently, “Ritual Gone Wrong: Case Studies in Ritual Disruption” (Oxford University Press), which examines ritual mistakes, sabotage, and disruption and their significance for ritual theory. Her recent research projects focus on religious rituals as a pathway to recovery for combat veterans, and ritual expressions in art quilts.

She is a member of the American Society for the Study of Religion and has served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Religion. She chaired the AAR’s Futures Task Force, a three-year initiative identifying opportunities for innovation and growth in the professional organization. Dr. McClymond has received several awards for her work, including a Distinguished Honors Professor Award, an Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences at Georgia State University, and the American Academy of Religion’s Ray L. Hart Service Award.

“I’m proud to be a Petrel,” Dr. McClymond said. “Our graduates are leaders in their professions and active in their communities. It’s an honor to work with our impressive faculty and staff to educate the next generation.”

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