Wole Ojurongbe, MALS ’08, director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, discusses what he likes best about his job, the unpredictable nature of his work, and what he is currently reading.
Job Title: Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program at Dartmouth
How long have you been at Dartmouth: I started working for the program in 2003 as the administrator/registrar, and became the director in 2012.
What is your role? I’m the administrative director of the program. I oversee all processes starting with applications, admissions, the budget, and course scheduling. I advise students on their plan of study and make sure they’re making satisfactory progress, all the way up to graduation.
What brought you to this path? Long story (laughs). I moved to the Upper Valley in May 2002. The following winter I was speaking with Laura Lovett, a former assistant to the Dean of Faculty, about a family history project that I was planning to work on. My mother had passed recently, and I found out after she died that she’d had a daughter when she was 18 that she never told anybody about. And so I wanted to research this story, see if I could find out what happened and see if I could find my half-sister. Laura said, “You should go talk to the people at the MALS program.” And I said, well actually, I’m looking for a job; I’m not looking to go back to school yet, and she said, “Well, you should at least go talk to them.” So I did. As it turned out, the administrator of the program had just announced he’d be leaving in a few months, so I applied for the job in May of 2003 and applied to the program in July. I started as a student in 2004 while working full time for the program.
What does a typical day look like? Lots of emails, working with students, answering various questions for students, other offices around campus—depending on the time of year, I could be conducting applicant interviews, planning for commencement, or new student orientation. So it varies a lot. But the emails are constant (laughs).
What is the favorite part about your job? I think the interactions with applicants, students, faculty, and staff around the campus. I’ve met some really interesting people around here. It’s amazing. I also enjoy the excitement of not knowing what I’m going to need to do next. You just never know what the next email is going to bring—what part of the brain I’ll need to utilize next to address different issues.
What is your passion outside of work? My wife and I like to start our days reading. We enjoy getting up in the morning, brewing a pot of coffee, lying down in bed or sitting on the couch and reading different books. I read some fiction, a lot of nonfiction. I like biographies and memoirs. I also read about the history of Christianity—the life and times of Jesus are a very interesting topic—African American literature and history.
What are you reading these days? I am currently reading Gandhi Before India, by Ramachandra Guha. Gandhi’s philosophy influenced such individuals as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve always been interested to learn more about Gandhi, and this book details how his philosophy was shaped and developed by his work for and on behalf of Indian immigrants in British/Dutch South Africa in the 1890s and early 1900s.