Monthly Report to Campus
Sandy Pfeiffer, President
Warren Wilson College
As I noted in last month’s report, my first month on the job (July) was devoted mostly to getting to know members of the campus community, attending a seminar for new presidents in Boston, and experiencing many summer events hosted by the college. My second month has given me more exposure to campus life and to the issues we’ll face this year and beyond.
The Administrative Council Retreat that began the month of August helped me select the main topics mentioned in my August 15 Convocation address: assessment, planning, enrollment, culture, and communication. (The complete speech can be found on my web page.) Of the five, planning presents the most immediate challenge for all of us. Soon we’ll be developing a three-year Action Plan that flows from the current Strategic Plan. It will give specific steps, deadlines, lines of responsibility, and resources needed for a variety of tasks. Guiding our work over the next three years, the Action Plan will be revised and updated yearly.
A most enjoyable part of the past month was welcoming first-year students and returning students to campus. At a reception at our home, Evelyn and I met first-year students and their parents at the beginning of what proved to be a very successful Orientation week. Indeed, much of the month included many such formal and informal meetings. For example, Ev and I hiked to the Bat Cave with friends of the college and had a tour of the college forests. Also, I visited a reunion luncheon, Work Program Office social, Supervisors' Retreat, New Employee Orientation, Academic Affairs retreat and picnic, Family Council meeting, Staff Forum, N.C. Outward Bound School, and baseball benefit for the Mountain Area Child and Family Center. Ev and I attended several home soccer games, as well as part of the mountain bike team’s meet in Johnson City this past weekend. Finally, the men’s soccer team let me run with them early one morning last week, though I’ll confess they left me in the dust and completed their loop much faster than I did (though I did finish!).
Activities of the past month also included my first meeting with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. At that session we discussed issues that had been addressed at the Administrative Council retreat earlier in the month, such as upcoming program reviews. We also agreed on some operating procedures for the year ahead. This meeting, along with several social gatherings with some local Board members, helped me get to know the Board and the history of governance at the college. I’m looking forward to the first full meeting of the Board of Trustees in October, when guidelines for next year’s budget will be introduced.
The highlight of my second month as president was working with many students, faculty, and staff at Service Day on Friday, August 25. Ev and I worked on a landscaping project at a recreational site in Black Mountain. And there were many more projects at which members of our community collectively invested hundreds of service hours. Just a few of them follow: restoring steam sites, clearing gardens, maintaining trails, harvesting gardens for use at a ministry, cutting brush at a park, and painting a wonderful mural. Warren Wilson’s service to the community has helped us gain not only the deep respect and thanks from members of the greater Asheville community but also major recognition from national groups. For example, the recently published 2007 America’s Best Colleges published by U.S. News and World Report lists Warren Wilson as one the top colleges in the country with respect to service learning. I should add that the 2007 issue also ranks WWC as #1 in “highest proportion of classes under 20 [students]” among schools in the South in the “Best Universities—Master’s” category.
The academic year has started with gusto. I’m looking forward to a September that will include more meetings with members of the college community, work on the three-year Action Plan, preparation for the October meeting of the Board of Trustees, and the start of the search process for a variety of open positions. The key to our success will continue to be effective collaboration and open communication.