Warren Wilson College News

Warren Wilson College September 2006 Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer
Sandy Pfeiffer, President
September 30, 2006

In this report, I’ll highlight a few activities of the last month and several decisions that will affect the future of the college.

During September Evelyn and I were invited to dine at EcoDorm, Vining, Stephenson, and Preston, and we thoroughly enjoyed all four events. In these gatherings and others, we’ve been impressed by the maturity, independence, and good sense of Warren Wilson students. I should add that they’re also darn good cooks! Other events included the following, among others: (a) a dinner party at the home of Joel and Marla Adams (Joel is chair of the Board of Trustees), attended by leaders in the Asheville community, (b) two campus receptions, one for former faculty and staff and the other for new faculty and staff, (c) a meeting with the Student Caucus wherein we discussed several campus issues, with emphasis on campus safety, (d) individual meetings with several WWC trustees and with our college attorney, (e) a presentation to residents of Craggy View Cottages, a development adjacent to campus, (f) receptions at the Biltmore Country Club and at the Table restaurant, to meet members of the community, alumni, and friends of the college, and (g) a session with NCATE, the accrediting body evaluating our education program.

Now I’ll mention some decisions made in the last month. You may know that a Diversity Task Force has been meeting since last year and submitted a report to the Administration in April 2006, before I arrived. Having met with the committee last week and having thought a good deal about diversity at Warren Wilson College, I’m convinced we must have an employee on staff exclusively to address diversity issues–such as student recruitment, faculty/staff hiring, and campus culture. This past week I informed the Administrative Council that we’ll aim to hire a staff member in charge of diversity as of July 1, 2007 (the beginning of the next fiscal year) and that this person initially will report directly to me. The Diversity Task Force is now drafting a recommended job description for the position. As well, we may seek some consulting advice this year, at a modest fee, to help promote diversity during our many faculty and staff searches.

Previously I announced we’ll put into place a more consistent and comprehensive performance evaluation system in the next few years, linked to pay increases. One step in this process will be giving faculty and staff the opportunity to complete an evaluation of the member of the Administrative Council who oversees their respective unit. With the help of Don Ray, we now have a draft of a feedback/evaluation form for review. Soon I’ll send the draft form to faculty and staff, asking that any comments or suggestions be directed to Don Ray for my consideration. The final draft of this feedback/evaluation form will be sent to employees in the spring, the results of which will help me evaluate members of the Administrative Council and determine their salary raise.

Finally, I want to mention that I’ve spent considerable time reviewing our budget structure and fund-raising needs. One point has become absolutely clear to me: if this college is to reach its goals and maintain a high-quality liberal arts education, it must place more emphasis on fund-raising and grant-writing in the years ahead. Additional funds will be essential for crucial campus projects such as new academic and wellness buildings, student scholarships of all kinds, and much-needed increases in faculty/staff salaries. Toward that end, I’ll be seeking help from old and new friends of the college. As I mentioned at a recent Staff Forum session, my ability to seek funds outside the college–especially within the Asheville community–will depend in part on the degree to which we can demonstrate to the community that we’ve supported our own college. For example, it is important that as many faculty and staff as possible contribute to the United Way and Annual Fund. Percentage of contributors is just as important, if not more important, than dollar amounts. A good showing on campus gives us a stronger case when I seek to raise funds off campus. This is just one reason why I ask that you contribute something—even if only a very modest amount—to both United Way and the Annual Fund this year. All of us have much to gain.

The month of October promises to be a busy one. In addition to Homecoming Weekend, we have the meeting of the Board of trustees on October 12-14. This will be my first meeting of the full board, and the main topic will be the tentative budget for next year. Additional topics include diversity and fund-raising plans for the year ahead.

I wish you a pleasant fall season. If I haven’t met with you personally or with a group to which you belong, please drop by or invite me to meet you and your colleagues.

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