On April 18, 2018, Sandra Doran was named the interim president of Salem College, a position which she started the following month. She served in this capacity for 14 months. This September, Salem Academy and College’s Board of Trustees voted to transition Doran into the role of Salem’s 21st president.
When she was asked to stay as president, Doran excitedly accepted. According to Doran, there was not even a thought about leaving.
“For me it was not even a decision,” Doran said. “I have been enthralled with Salem since the day I stepped foot on this campus.”
This feeling of enthrallment is one that many Salem students and alumni are familiar with; the feeling of community and the feeling of home. When she first stepped on campus, Doran could feel this energy.
“It was a community I just really wanted to be a part of,” Doran said.
She also helps to spread this feeling to the Winston-Salem community and to prospective students.
“We want everyone to be a part of our community, to feel like they’ve got something to contribute,” Doran said. “And to actually have the opportunity to contribute to our community.”
While the Winston-Salem community may be relatively new to her, the concept of single-sex education is not.
“I come from a family that really values education,” Doran said.
Her own studies as well as the background of her family inspires her to work on the educational experience of others.
“My mother went back to school when I was in middle school,” Doran said. “My great grandfather was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Colorado and became a superintendent in New York. My grandfather was also a superintendent of schools in New York, so I have a long line of educators in my family.”
Not only does she come from a long line of educators, but she comes from a family with experience in women’s education. Her grandmother went to Barnard and her mother went to Nazareth.
“Our family is deeply rooted in single sex education.” Doran said.
This familial background has provided a great sense of support to Doran, who knows the value of family support.
“It’s great to have the support of your family- whether it’s a family that’s a biological family or a adopted family or a created family,” Doran said. “Being able to reach out to them for support is invaluable.”
Due to this support, Doran has many goals for Salem, and many of them are rooted in her role as president. She hopes to be the best president she can be.
“That’s what students deserve and that’s what faculty deserve,” Doran said. “They deserve a president who thinks about them, thinks about their needs and expectations, who thinks about their future.”
Other goals include helping students find the things that they care about and then helping them incorporate them into their life.
“You know, we hear a lot about this word passion. Passion is just another word for finding a career path or a life.” Doran said. “Passion is building a life about things that you care about.”
She believes that Salem is the perfect school to do this.
“There’s just so much opportunity here,” Doran said.
Doran’s dedication to Salem is not limited to the workday. Doran, her husband Steve, and their dog live in the Rondthaler-Gramley house, in the center of Salem’s campus. Despite the house having been home to former presidents, Doran’s move was her own decision.
“Things happen spontaneously and if you’re not around for the spontaneity then you’re going to miss so much of the experience,” Doran said. “It helps me understand the needs and expectations of our students better.”
Doran also enjoys being able to walk out the front door and to see people that she knows.
“It brings me such joy,” Doran said. “You can’t replace that.”
It comes as no surprise that Salem’s students have a special place in Doran’s heart.
“Our students, they’re talented when they arrive, they’ve got great ideas about what they want to do with their lives, and then they go do it! And that’s just so exciting to me.” Doran said. “You don’t find that everywhere.”
This talent and passion has impacted Doran.
“It’s changed my life. Salem has changed my life.” Doran said. “Life is more nuanced having been here at Salem.”