By: Sandy Pfeiffer
The fall term has begun well with the arrival of a terrific group of first-year students. They have hit the ground running in classes, work assignments, and extracurricular activities. From all I’ve heard and seen, the Admission Office once again has delivered a group of students of whom the College can be proud. So I’ll start by thanking Richard Blomgren and his Admission colleagues for their successful recruiting efforts.
In my August 14 Convocation Address, I mentioned that the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) has the following shared goals for the College in the year ahead: (1) be sustainable, (2) enhance the Triad, (3) be accountable, (4) achieve more diversity, (5) evaluate programs, (6) advance the Quality Enhancement Plan, and (7) continue and improve the planning process. (For details on these goals, see the complete speech on the college website under "President’s Page" in the drop-down "Info" menu.) We’re dedicated to working closely with each other and with the rest of the College in achieving these seven common goals.
One common theme in many of our goals this year is a focus on the health, safety, and general well-being of all members of our community. An obvious example is the new smoking restriction policy, which flowed from the excellent collaborative work of a committee made up of students, faculty, and staff. This policy applies only to central campus and requires smokers to use smoking tents, which will be converted to permanent structures once we’ve determined their appropriate location, number, and size. As well, we’ll invest in smoking cessation programs for those who want to quit the habit. Not surprisingly, the new policy has not been without controversy. Yet the fact that we carefully followed our shared governance process in developing it will help garner campus-wide support. For my part, I’m pleased to be part of a college that has taken a major step toward developing a healthier campus and toward encouraging the long-term health of its students, faculty, staff, and graduates.
Speaking of the long term, I continue to toil away on a 5-10 year vision statement for the College. As I’ve mentioned previously, this statement will define our aspirations and help lay the foundation for a comprehensive capital campaign. Many thanks for comments a number of you sent me in response to the first draft I offered. Using critiques I received, I’ve developed the following new draft: “Warren Wilson College offers the nation’s best liberal arts education that integrates academics, work, and service—a Triad that emphasizes individual, social, global, and environmental responsibility.” You may continue to send suggestions, if you’d like, because our vision statement remains a work in progress.
I’ll close this monthly report with an enrollment update. As I mentioned in Staff Forum last week, we ended up with a few dozen more students this fall than we expected. The main reasons are that our retention improved, more students than expected returned from leave or were readmitted, and more students than we expected accepted our admission offers. Although changes such as increased retention bode well for our future, we want to avoid growing further until or unless the College makes a conscious decision to do so. Thus we’ll factor this year’s increased retention rates and other related data into our calculations for next fall. In the meantime, we’ll be studying just what services and curricula are needed to support the enrollment we have.
My thanks to all of you for helping to get this year off to a great start. I look forward to seeing you on campus throughout the semester. Staying in touch with you personally helps me to understand the needs of the campus and to plan for its future. So feel free to drop by my office, especially if you are new to the College.