By: Sandy Pfeiffer
March was one of the busiest months of the year for all of us at the College. So I’ll write a bit more than my usual overview.
During the spring break, many of our students were completing service projects around the country. I’ll start this monthly report by mentioning three such projects. Please know that many more students served on projects than I have space to mention in this report.
Representing the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Lamar Powell wrote to me about a group of Warren Wilson students that spent their spring vacation doing a lot of heavy lifting (about 15,000 pounds worth) to maintain the AT. He commented that in his eleven years working on the trail, “I have never met any group that surpassed your students in the efforts to remediate and enhance the condition of the trail. . . . I commend these fine young adults to you as examples of the values Warren Wilson College seeks to instill.” The students listed in his letter are Anna Brannen, Charles Bauman-Smith,
Michael Fink, Chelsea Maier, Mandy Monroe, Leslie Springs, and Franklin Stone.
Another letter of praise for our students came from Jess Shows, executive director of the Pigeon Key Foundation and Marine Service Center in the Florida Keys. Jess wrote that the student volunteers from Warren Wilson “were easily the best group of volunteers we’ve ever had on the island, and made a tremendous positive impact on our facilities. From painting and general maintenance to cleaning and historic preservation, these six students made a world of difference . . . Asher Wright, the Team Leader, was organized, articulate, and demonstrated a true ability to work in and lead a team.” In addition to Asher, the team included Loren Cardeli, Luke Bernard, Katie Kuehl, Scott Mericka, and Rich Kilcullen.
Finally, the 4/1/07 edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times featured an article on a spring break service trip wherein fifteen of our students spent their break working in Louisiana on Hurricane Katrina relief; it was the fifth trip the College has sponsored in this effort. The article notes that “When they returned to Swannanoa, [the students] developed ‘New Orleans Now!’ a slideshow presentation and discussion to stimulate awareness of post-Katrina Gulf Coast issues. They have shared their presentation with colleges, churches, service groups, community centers and schools in the Asheville area.”
These are just three of many service projects completed by our students, demonstrating their commitment to the “service” portion of the academics/service/work Triad of the College. You may know that Warren Wilson is a member of the Campus Compact, a national association of colleges and universities committed to service learning. Just this week I agreed to serve on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Campus Compact.
MY TRAVEL OFF CAMPUS
March was a month during which I spent some time off campus representing the College at several professional meetings. Along with Joel Adams and Ron Hunt, chair and vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, I attended the national meeting of the Association of Governing Boards in Phoenix, where we discussed fund-raising and media issues, for example. I also attended the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities annual meeting at Pinehurst, the Southern University Conference meeting in Asheville, and a Work Colleges Consortium conference in Racine, Wisconsin. Although I was not able to attend the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities meeting last week, the College did send a representative, and I’m planning to attend next year’s meeting.
I am very pleased to report that our faculty and students continue to work together on research projects that enrich the teaching and learning experience of this college. Recently, Don Collins (Physics) and Phil Gibson (Environmental Leadership Center) accompanied the following excellent students to the North Carolina Academy of Science meeting at East Carolina University, with awards noted in parentheses: Travis Briggs (firstplace, Ecology); Anna Chollet; Sarah De Leiris; Laura Foulke (third place, Chemistry); Betsy Kain (first place, Environmental Science); George Keel (second place, Physics and Mathematics); Liina Laufer; Will Lyons; Aaron Malenke (second place, Chemistry); Neal Maker (second place, Botany); and Rebecca Worley.
GLOBAL WARMING INITIATIVE
Recently I agreed to serve on the Leadership Circle of the presidents who have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Toward that end I have been talking with other presidents about the need for them to make a similar commitment on their campuses, in order to help neutralize U.S. greenhouse emissions by mid-century. For example, at last month’s Association of Governing Board meeting, I co-chaired two roundtables to provide presidents and board members with information on the Commitment.
As well, I’ll be speaking at the April 14 “Step It Up” rally in Asheville, which is only one of hundreds of similar rallies that will be held around the country to encourage Congress to accelerate progress on addressing the problem of global climate change. I feel fortunate to be a member of a college community that long ago made the commitment to sustainability. But we still have work ahead, both in our progress on campus and in the leadership our faculty, staff, students, and graduates must continue to demonstrate around the country and overseas.