Warren Wilson College News

July 2007 Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer

My first monthly report of the new fiscal year includes some summer activities and outlines a few topics the deans, vice presidents, and I discussed recently—particularly at our two planning sessions. Note that we’ve adopted a new name for the Administrative Council. It’s now called the President’s Advisory Council (or PAC, for short). I changed it to a name that best describes the main function of the group.

1. What I Did on My (Brief) Summer Vacation

In late June and early July, Ev and I drove West to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and the Black Hills. Once there, we had a wonderful time, though I would only recommend the long drive if everyone in the car has the same taste in music (we don’t) and has lots to talk about (we always do). The highlights of the trip for me were (a) getting caught in a mini-buffalo stampede on a early morning jog, during which moment of terror a slim pine tree saved me from being flattened, (b) running into a May 2007 WWC graduate and his family at Yellowstone, (c) seeing the rodeo and buying a pair of cowboy boots in Cody, Wyoming, (d) viewing more than our share of wildlife and geysers, and (e) taking miles of day hikes in the mountains. But at the end of the trip, we had to agree with Dorothy—there’s no place like home.

2. Summer On Campus

If you’ve had the opportunity to attend any summer events on campus, you know what a vibrant community we have during June, July, and August. Last night’s Swannanoa Gathering concert was one fine example for Ev and me. Along with many other fine performers, one of my folk music heroes, Tom Paxton, sang a few tunes. In addition to the Gathering, the campus has been blessed with other fine programs such as the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival (in its 37th year here), the Swannanoa School of Culinary Arts, and our MFA program for writers. Our many summer programs, and other activities during this period, show that we need to take a long-term look at how the campus is used for summers. Soon the PAC will be discussing the challenge of simultaneously running summer programs, allowing opportunities for much-needed maintenance, adding revenue to the budget, and considering possible new programs that support our academic mission.

3. Sustainability in Decision Making

In July the PAC (remember—that’s the new name for the Administrative Council—see above) agreed to use a Sustainability Decision-Making Model that was presented by Margo Flood, director of the Environmental Leadership Center. Generally, the model provides a structure for decision making that considers the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a proposal while it is being discussed. Margo will help spread the word on this model to the campus governance structure, perhaps through a lunch meeting.

4. Sustainability Partnership with Asheville

Today an email went out to campus announcing that next Monday morning, August 6, Mayor Bellamy and I will sign a Declaration of Partnership to Protect the Climate. All are invited to attend the event scheduled for 11:00 a.m. in front of City Hall. As noted in the email, “Areas for exploration for WWC and Asheville might include the exchange of best practices for monitoring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the use of WWC as a demonstration site for green practices, and the creation of summer internships for WWC students.” We hope our sustainability partnership serves as a template for many other city/college collaborations around the nation and the world.

5. Advancement

Yesterday (Wednesday, August 1), Sallie-Grace Tate officially began her job as our new Vice President for Advancement, but she also attended our PAC Retreat on Monday and Tuesday. Please join me in welcoming Sallie-Grace to the campus, and I’m sure you’ll get the chance to meet her personally in the coming weeks. I’m excited about the prospects for our new Office of Advancement (formerly called College Relations). The new office got a good start this summer with several unexpected and significant gifts, one of which we’ll use to help cover the additional costs of the Jensen Building renovation. In the coming few years, it will be essential that we focus on attracting continuous new funding to meet our vision for the College.

6. Vision Statement

In my February 2007 monthly report, I noted that I “would have a conversation with you soon” about adopting a vision statement for the College. After seeking advice from the PAC at our retreat earlier this week, I am pleased to offer the following 25-word vision statement for your review:

Warren Wilson College provides an excellent liberal arts education that combines academics, work, and service—with a strong commitment to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

This statement is in the present tense because I’d like to convey the sense that we’re in the process of “becoming” it. Yet we clearly have five or ten years of work ahead to see it fully realized, and as such it will become a driving force in seeking funds for our upcoming Comprehensive Capital Campaign. Please feel free to send me your comments on the statement, if you’d like. Although a vision statement will not become a governance agenda item, I do want to make sure it reflects a direction that can be supported by the vast majority—and ideally all—of our community.

7. PAC RETREAT SUMMARY

I’ve already mentioned this week’s PAC retreat, so perhaps it might be useful to summarize our main accomplishments in the day and a half we spent off campus. Besides handling a number of housekeeping issues, we (a) discussed the vision statement mentioned above, (b) outlined next steps in the campus discussion on enrollment, to include determining what may be needed to meet the needs of the current enrollment and setting criteria for discussing any possible change in enrollment, (c) highlighted several shared 2007-2008 goals that would be supported by the individual annual goals of PAC members, and (d) drafted and
discussed tentative funding priorities for our future Comprehensive Capital Campaign. You’ll be hearing about all these issues in due course.

There’s much more to report, but I want to save details and additional topics for my Convocation Address on August 14. We have an exciting year ahead with great new and continuing employees, a strong enrollment and budget, new partnerships, and a trajectory of success that bodes well for the future of the College. Thanks for all you do to keep us on track.

Sandy Pfeiffer

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