New Alumni Leadership Charts Innovative Course at Oxford College

Daniel Christian •

John McColl, president of OCAB at Oxford, and Michele Sims, chair elect of the Oxford BOC

The Oxford College Board of Counselors and Alumni Board will support a variety of student flourishing initiatives.

A cornerstone of the Oxford College experience is alumni engagement—current students networking with and benefiting from the investments of those who once walked in their very shoes.

The Oxford College Board of Counselors (BOC) and Alumni Board (OCAB) are responsible for fostering these important connections to both students and the administration. On the BOC, Oxford alumni come together to envision priorities—and to support those of the dean’s—that bolster student experience, including rallying fellow alumni for support and engagement. OCAB provides the framework for alumni to engage with the college, students, and each other.

John McColl

John McColl began his term as president of the Alumni Board in October 2023.

Michele Sims

Michele Sims will start her term as chair of the Board of Counselors this month.

Over the last year, Oxford has welcomed a new chair-elect of the BOC in Michele Sims 84Ox 86C and a new OCAB president in John McColl 08Ox 10B. Sims will take over for current chair Jonathan Eady 84Ox 86C on March 22, and McColl succeeded OCAB president Michael Silverio 98Ox 00C in October.

Sims and McColl both have exciting visions for the future of Oxford College and how alumni can continue to support students. 


“Anytime you have a new dean, there is a new energy, new objectives, and new purposes—and the Board of Counselors will support Dean [Badia] Ahad and the students 110 percent,” Sims said.

Sims is planning three pillars of the BOC’s focus for her term as chair: student flourishing, alumni engagement, and supporting the new Center for Pathways and Purpose (CPP)—“which really ties the previous two together,” she said.

The CPP will house several programs and resources—such as global and community engaged learning initiatives—to help students explore their career and personal development and bring those experiences back to the classroom. More information on the CPP’s new framework will be shared at the March joint board meeting. Sims believes Oxford’s many successful alumni can provide the CPP additional opportunities.

Outgoing chair Eady shares Sim’s enthusiasm for supporting the CPP.

“Michele is stepping into the BOC chair seat at a great time to leverage the launch of the Center for Pathways and Purpose as a primary vehicle for engaging alums to share their wisdom and experiences directly with students who are searching for their own life path,” Eady said. “There is no more important time than now to enhance the connections among Oxford alums and the current students. These connections help us to remain grounded in our past, engaged in our present, and striving to embrace our future as proud members of the Oxford College community.”

Sims believes that visiting Oxford can help alumni reminisce and feel connected to their roots—and that can lead to supporting the college and its programs, like the CPP.

“It’s important to come back,” she said. “Even just being here and seeing the changes, you feel much more connected when your feet are on the ground. It brings back the memories. But then you also are able to connect with our current students. The BOC has such a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and we need to pass that down to the current generation.”

Providing more opportunities to strengthen that bond between Oxford students and alumni is at the top of John McColl’s list of priorities as president of OCAB.

“I also work closely with Dean Ahad, and my role is to keep alumni engaged with the college and connecting with students, whether through social or networking events,” McColl said.

While much of that connection can take place through mentorships and career advice, McColl said there has been a recent emphasis to have Oxford alumni connect with current students over matters of mental wellbeing and personal expectations, especially as they relate to the college experience.

The Emory Reframes campaign has shared testimonies from faculty and staff on how they have navigated challenges and moments of self-doubt throughout their lives and careers. McColl is encouraging alumni to do the same.

“My responsibility is to listen to what’s happening on campus,” he said. “We are very passionate about having alumni tell their stories about their own tough times, and how they still ultimately succeeded. I think it’s very impactful when alumni, who have had similar foundational experiences as the current students, can empathize with the pressures we put on ourselves to be perfect and succeed right away—and then to share how they moved forward.”

Michael Silverio, the previous OCAB president, is looking forward to supporting McColl’s tenure.

“John and current Oxford leadership bring a whole new perspective to the board focused on growth and development of student and alumni engagement opportunities,” Silverio said. “The board is filled with talented, compassionate individuals who have a shared love of the campus, its traditions, and helping students flourish.”


McColl started his career as a financial statements auditor before transitioning to financial advising—where he says relationships are key. Oxford helped him develop both the financial and social skills that would serve him later in life.

“I had such great experiences becoming my own person at Oxford that I want to help other students do the same,” he said. “I took Dr. Frank Maddox’s economics class and that helped form my love for economics and business in general. But more than that, I met people with such different perspectives, and we were able to form a connection through Oxford.”

McColl currently gives back to the Oxford and Emory communities by giving guest lectures on financial literacy.

Sims spent the early part of her career in sales before transitioning to wealth management. She cites her Oxford experience—and the many lessons learned and connections made—as a primary reason for her success.

“It really is a close-knit community,” Sims said. “The environment helped me make close friends. We were together seven days a week, studying and living. We enjoyed our proximity to nature. It helped me make connections that I’ve kept throughout my life. So much of the world doesn’t slow down enough to do that, and that ability to slow down is part of Oxford’s secret sauce.”