Warren Wilson College News

December 2007 Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer
The campus is strangely quiet today, with most students having left for holiday destinations near and far. Although it’s a good time for me to catch up on paperwork, I already miss the wonderful activity that envelops this campus when it’s full of 800-plus students. In fact, I probably saw about half of them when Evelyn and I worked the serving line at the exam breakfast a few days ago. And for any parents who might be reading this report, let me assure you I heard plenty of “please” and “thank you” comments from all students we served at that late-night breakfast. Because all our students work hard, I think they appreciate it when they see others doing the same.

This monthly report probably will be the last one I send until the end of February. I’ll skip January mainly because many faculty and staff will be taking some vacation time in the coming weeks and because students don’t return until late January. So by the end of February, I’m sure I’ll have much to report. Now, here are a few topics and events from the last month.


On December 10, there was an open forum at which any members of the campus community could discuss issues related to shared governance on campus. Early next semester I’ll distribute a set of detailed minutes from the session. But for now I’d just like to mention a few key points mentioned at the meeting: (1) the SFLT (the Staff Forum Leadership Team, which includes the co-conveners and secretary) should meet periodically with the PAC (President’s Advisory Council); (2) the Student Caucus leadership should meet periodically with the PAC; and (3) the SFLT and Student Caucus leadership should meet periodically with each other, to discuss various shared concerns—for example, the need for more Community Meetings. I support all three proposals and will discuss them next semester with Caucus, Staff Forum, and the PAC.


My thanks to all of you who brought toys to my office, to be given to the local Toys for Tots campaign. Today they will be delivered to the regional Toys for Tots center. As I mentioned in Staff Forum a few weeks ago, all donated toys are given to needy families in our own region.


Our MFA program and its graduates have received significant national praise of late. Man Gone Down, a first novel by one of our MFA graduates, Michel Thomas, was listed as one of the “10 Best Books of 2007” in the December 9, 2007, New York Times Book Review section. Also, three of the ten finalists for this year’s National Book Awards were Warren Wilson MFA faculty. They include Jim Shepard (fiction), Linda Gregerson (poetry), and–for the second time–Ellen Bryant Voigt (poetry). As well, two of the four panel chairs (David Shields in nonfiction and Francine Prose in fiction) were MFA faculty, and an alumnus–Leslie Shipman, who is the head of the National Book Foundation Education Programs–was in charge of the first night awards events.


Recently Ben Anderson, director of Media Relations, assembled the following list of college accomplishments for the past year. I thought you might want to see them:

In January, we were the first private college or university in North Carolina to sign a letter of intent for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. In August, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and the College signed an agreement stating the intent of the College and City to work toward climate partnership goals.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges named Warren Wilson as one of its 26 “Best Buys of 2008” among private colleges and universities nationwide, the third time in four years that the College had been selected. Warren Wilson was one of only two independent institutions in North Carolina to receive the recognition.

Blue Ridge Outdoors selected Warren Wilson as the Southeast’s “Greenest College,” one of the “Green Globe Awards” the magazine handed out in its July 2007 issue. The award recognizes the College for “making a positive impact on the health of the planet and its people.”

The Atlantic Monthly, in its August 2007 issue, chose Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers as one of the nation’s “Five Top Low-Residency M.F.A. Programs.” The College’s program, founded in 1976 and relocated here in 1981, was the nation’s first low-residency MFA program.

The debut Guide to Service-Learning Colleges and Universities, published by Student Horizons Inc., included Warren Wilson as one of the nation’s leading service-learning programs.

The Peace and Environment Team of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville awarded, in September, a Certificate of Appreciation to the College for its ongoing environmental efforts.

KIWI magazine’s first “Green College Report,” published in September, cited Warren Wilson among 50 colleges and universities nationwide that have “eco-friendly campuses and programs.”

Sierra magazine, published by the Sierra Club, ranked Warren Wilson No. 3 nationwide – and first in the Southeast – among its “10 Coolest Schools” in the fight against global warming. The feature was the cover story of the magazine’s November/December 2007 issue.


I’d like to highlight just one of many faculty/student collaborations that have occurred on campus. In fact, I’ll quote directly from an email Interim VPAA John Casey and I recently received from David Abernathy, the faculty member who is overseeing the Panama project mentioned below:

“I wanted to let you both know about the undergraduate environmental research award that Nora Purcell just received. She submitted an outstanding application which was deservedly recognized by Lewis & Clark and the initiative’s steering committee. Nora will be working on a project using geographic information systems and wireless sensor networks on a nature reserve in Panama as tools for understanding micro-level changes in climate and biodiversity…..A big thank you to Lou
Weber for bringing this opportunity to our attention, to Naomi Otterness for her support of the initial site visit to Panama, and to John Casey for supporting international undergraduate research across the board. I am very excited about Nora’s project and by the initiative that all of the GIS Crew members are taking to move this project forward.”

With that, I will close this last report of 2007 and wish all of you a wonderful holiday and rewarding year ahead.

Sandy Pfeiffer


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