Category: Fall 2022, Georgetown Magazine

Title:A winding path from jazz to university president

Author: Karen Doss Bowman
Date Published: September 27, 2022
Michael Sosulski (SLL’87)
Michael Sosulski (SLL’87) | Photo: Washington College

As a student at Georgetown, Michael Sosulski (SLL’87) had two passions: German and jazz. While studying abroad in Tübingen, Germany, Sosulski—a tenor saxophonist—formed a jazz band with fellow musicians. When they weren’t studying, the group traveled throughout southwestern Germany playing professional gigs.

The experience inspired Sosulski to become a performer. After graduating from Georgetown, he enrolled at the renowned Berklee College of Music. After his first year, however, Sosulski felt called in a different direction.

“I learned a ton about myself in that year, including that I was not cut out to be a professional musician,” says Sosulski. “Sometimes in life you try things, and they don’t work out. That’s just as valuable [a lesson] as the things that do work out.”

Sosulski decided to follow in the footsteps of two of his favorite Georgetown professors: Heidi Byrnes (G’79, Parent), George M. Roth Distinguished Professor of German Emerita, and Rev. G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., also emeritus faculty. Their support and guidance set him on the path to a distinguished career as a German professor and higher education administrator.

This fall, Sosulski will be inaugurated as the 31st President of Washington College, a small, private liberal arts institution located in Chestertown, Maryland. Established with a donation of 50 guineas by George Washington in 1782, Washington College was the first American college founded after the new republic was formed.

“Georgetown has been with me every step of the way,” says Sosulski, who also earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago. “Father Murphy was a nurturing teacher and professor. And Dr. Byrnes modeled how to be a powerful researcher and a great teacher. She has continued as a mentor throughout my career.”

Before taking the helm at Washington College, Sosulski was provost at Wofford College in South Carolina. He also held faculty and administrative roles at Kalamazoo College and Pacific Lutheran University.

Sosulski is driven by the “deep and abiding belief in the value of a liberal arts education.”

“The liberal arts approach is the best model I’ve experienced for developing deep, critical thinkers—people who understand how to evaluate complicated, thorny problems from multiple perspectives, not just one,” says Sosulski, who is married to Corinne P. Crane (G’08), an associate professor of German at the University of Alabama. “Institutions like Georgetown that remain liberal arts institutions at their center prepare graduates to face society’s rapidly changing landscape and complex challenges.”

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