Warren Wilson College News

September 2007 Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer
I’ll start by thanking all who participated in the 24-hour run/walk marathon that just ended this morning (Sunday). It was sponsored by Outdoor Programs, Intramurals, Wellness, and Student Life and required each participating group to keep a team member on the three-mile loop for the full 24 hours. Besides some fast running and walking, free food and live music brought out a good crowd on an absolutely beautiful day (and presumably night, though I wasn’t there then!). While jogging my loop at 5pm on Saturday, I was reminded of the beauty of our trails and pastures and the importance of keeping them safe and pristine.


Speaking of our trails, we have several campus committees discussing possible proposals for improving the safety and usefulness of our trail system—indeed, of all college property. This past month I spoke to the Staff Forum and Student Caucus about developing strategies for dealing with the considerable increase in visitors to our property. Whereas most visitors respect the fact that they’re on a private college campus and should follow posted rules, Public Safety has observed an increase in problems over the last few years. As we develop plans to respond to this challenge, I’ll provide additional information in a later monthly report.


With the recent announcement of the June 30, 2008, retirement of our long-time chief financial officer, Larry Modlin, the college is about to begin a search for his replacement. Larry has done fine work for the college, so we’ll be challenged to find the right person to fill his shoes. Having just finished a first draft of the job announcement, I’ll be meeting soon with the search committee and placing the ad in national publications shortly thereafter. The committee membership comprises Margo Flood (chair), Richard Blomgren, Paul Braese, John Brock, Mary Davies, Katie Green, David Harper, Mandy Monroe, and Kathy Pack. The committee may be assisted by an outside search firm, but that decision has not been made yet.


Larry’s impending retirement has brought about a review of the wide spectrum of activities he has managed so well for the college. This review resulted in a decision to shift the Farm, Forest, and Landscaping departments from the VPAF to the Dean of Work, Ian Robertson, who already oversees the Garden. Besides allowing the new VPAF to focus on a range of responsibilities more realistic for someone new to the college, the change places the three units under an administrator who has special skills in land management. Ian’s work with the Long-Range Land Use Committee and his 26 years living and working on the campus will help guide these enterprises as we continue our legacy of using our working landscape as a learning environment. Note that this change in duties will be considered a two-year pilot project, starting with the arrival of the new VPAF. Toward the end of the two years, the pilot project will be reviewed before deciding whether the transfer of departments will be retained.


As previously announced, the college has broadened its efforts toward diversity and multiculturalism with the appointment of Rodney Lytle as Director of Multicultural Affairs. To provide further support for Rodney’s office, we’ll continue to have a Diversity Task Force (DTF) in place for another year, along with a second committee—one focused on multicultural programming—chaired by Rodney. This week I’ll send out invitations for membership for the coming year’s DTF. Chaired by Dean of Students Cathy Kramer, the DTF will serve in an advisory capacity to me, as I collaborate with Rodney to continue promoting a diverse and multicultural workplace and learning environment at Warren Wilson College. Specifically, the DTF will examine campus policies, practice, and culture as they relate to diversity and will make recommendations as appropriate.


In my effort to share evolving drafts of our Vision Statement for the future, here’s the latest version: “Warren Wilson College (a) will integrate its Triad of academics, work, and service to create the best liberal arts education of its kind, (b) will emphasize individual, community, and global responsibility in the education of all its students, and (c) will be unsurpassed by any college or university in its success at teaching and practicing environmental stewardship.” As you may recall, the purpose of crafting a vision is to set the stage for a future capital campaign that will require a clear statement of college goals and priorities, among other preparations.


As we fill new positions and clarify job responsibilities among senior staff, I’ll be spending more time on activities related to increasing the visibility of the college and raising funds. Toward that end, my activities this past month included a local reception for VP for Advancement Sallie-Grace Tate, my wife Evelyn, and me, hosted by a local member of our Board of Trustees, Leslie Anderson. As well, I had meetings related to my membership on the North Carolina Outward Bound Board of Trustees and on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Campus Compact. Also, the campus hosted a meeting of the state’s Advanced Energy Corporation, which included Chairperson Hope Williams, director of the North Carolina Independent College and University Association, and Sallie-Grace Tate and I were guests of Trustee Bob Deutsch and his wife Carol at the annual luncheon for friends and donors of the Asheville Community Foundation. Finally, I’ve been working closely with Chairperson Ron Hunt and other members of the Board of Trustees Executive Committee in planning to add new trustees and to begin preparations for future fund-raising.

Looking ahead, October begins with Homecoming and Family Weekend and continues with our on-campus meeting of the Board of Trustees the following week. I wish all of you a pleasant and productive month ahead.

Sandy Pfeiffer


Comments are closed.