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R. Stanton Hales '64 Wins Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award

R. Stanton Hales '64

R. Stanton Hales ‘64 may perhaps be best known for his presidency of The College of Wooster, which spanned from 1995 to 2007. But while he built a successful career in teaching and academic administration, with 23 Years at Pomona College and 17 at Wooster, he also made his mark in a wholly different arena: badminton.

With six national titles in juniors, men’s and grand master’s (for ages 60-plus), Hales has found success in every stage of his badminton career. During the 1980s, he led the U.S. Badminton Association in their successful bid to join the Olympics. He went on to serve the International Badminton Federation Council as a chief administrator and court official, officiating tournaments all over the world, including the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. One of his biggest accomplishments in badminton, Hales says, was meeting his wife, who is also a national champion: “We’ve had a long happy marriage and career with badminton being a large part of it.”

It is for his contributions to these two worlds—academia and badminton—that Hales is one of this year’s recipients of the Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni for their high achievement in their professions or community service.

Hales studied mathematics while at Pomona. “By my sophomore year, thinking about a career, I thought, working at a college like this one would be absolutely perfect,” says Hales. While still finishing his Ph.D. in mathematics at Harvard, Hales was called back to Pomona for a temporary instructing position. That turned into a 23-year stay during which he eventually became associate dean of the College.

Hales left Pomona in 1990, after being recruited to be the vice president for academic affairs at The College of Wooster in Ohio. He held that position until 1995, when he was chosen as Wooster’s new president. He gave up his administrative work in badminton, which he conducted during the ‘80s and ‘90s, in 1999 because of his duties as president.

“I loved badminton. It gave me world travel and friends all over the world,” says Hales, whose first taste of sports administration came when, during his senior year at Pomona, he and Ray Park ’66 hosted the national junior badminton championships at Pomona College.

“The values [my wife and I] got out of competition, both the losing and the winning, and the variety of people we met both here in this country and abroad were just so valuable in dealing with the different kinds of pressures and experiences as a college administrator. You learn how to deal with losses. You learn how to rebound and do better next time.”

As president at Wooster, Hales oversaw a campaign that brought $147 million to the college, added several new buildings, and renovated the college’s largest building, the main academic hall. But Hales is just as proud of his strong relationship with staff and faculty that he cultivated during his 12 years as president.

Hales was known as a “student-oriented” president. .”I just enjoyed being a visible person on campus and getting to know a lot of students. I think that served the college well,” says Hales. “And I still get emails and phone calls and Facebook notes and LinkedIn notes from lots of students I knew there.”

Community work with other educational institutions was also important. He and a group of local educators started the Wayne County Academic Leaders, which met periodically. “I think it really helped everyone in the county feel like the college is part of them, and not trying to be above them. It’s really critical,” says Hales, who was also active in the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, the Association of Independent College and Universities of Ohio, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, and the nationwide Annapolis Group of independent liberal arts colleges.

Today, Hales is retired from Wooster but still stays active in academia as a consultant for Academic Search, a firm that assists colleges in their searches for new presidents, vice presidents and deans. (It was, indeed, the same firm that lured Hales from Pomona in 1990.)

“I find it especially enjoyable because it keeps me in touch with a lot of old friends. It also helps me meet new people,” says Hales. “I go to campuses I’ve never seen but would like to see. It keeps me involved with the whole process, but also at a level where I’m able to assist lots of different places.”