By: Sandy Pfeiffer
This Leap Day brings us near the close of a winter season that finally brought cold temperatures and even a little snow on campus. Yet the daffodils are blooming in my yard, over twenty calves have been born on the College Farm (so I’m told by Eliza Sydney, a member of the Farm Crew), and students are starting to wear shorts and T-shirts on warmer days. Spring is close at hand, but here I’ll reflect on a few events of the last month of a winter now ending.
Last night was a monthly highlight for me for I had the chance to meet with about 100 of our students in an open forum at the Sage Cafe. Organized by the Peace and Social Justice Crew, the session provided the opportunity to discuss many issues—including the use of more local food in our dining hall, the need for vacuum cleaners in dormitories, ways to support sustainability, safety on campus, and transparency in the budget process. It’s a testament to the maturity and engagement of our students that they showed willingness and, yes, even excitement about participating in the governance of the college, much like generations of Warren Wilson students before them have done. I tried to respond in kind by committing to a number of changes. For example, next year we will hold “budget hearings” whereby members of the campus community can hear and respond to budget proposals for the year ahead. All in all, last night’s meeting was a real “Warren Wilson event” that reinforced my belief that our students have the maturity, wisdom, and vision to view their experience at the College as a prelude to a life of serious purpose after graduation.
Another campus event this past month was our preparation for a March 11-14 environmental audit by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In anticipation of this audit, WWC Safety Officer Susan Quigley (leading), and Environmental Leadership Center’s Phillip Ray Gibson (assisting), have been working with the College’s department and program managers to ensure EPA compliance. For example, they conducted preliminary audits, disseminated information gathered in training programs at Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and prepared documents and procedures that the College has needed for many years. Sue Quigley and Phillip Gibson are to be congratulated for the considerable time and effort they invested in helping prepare for an environmental audit of multiple programs and functions throughout the College.
Off campus this past month, I took three trips on behalf of the College. Early in the month I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Work Colleges Consortium presidents group, and I was elected Vice Chair for the coming year. Also on that trip I attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and visited the office of Congressman Heath Shuler, where I discussed funding issues of importance to Warren Wilson. Later in the month I traveled with V.P. for Advancement Sallie Grace Tate to Florida to meet with donors, alumni, prospective students and their parents, and alumni. Then last week Vice President Tate and I visited Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte, where we held receptions for various friends of the College. Next week I’ll make a similar trip to California for three days. Clearly, more and more of my time will be devoted to travel that will lay the groundwork for our fund-raising program and for our continuing efforts to attract the best students to Warren Wilson.
Finally, this month brought the conclusion of the search for a new Vice President for Administration and Finance. As already noted in an earlier announcement, Jonathan Ehrlich accepted an offer to fill the position and will begin in July, after the retirement of Larry Modlin. Another search about to conclude next week is one for the Vice President of Academic Affairs. You’ll receive an announcement on that search soon.
It had been a frenetic month with more to come. I wish you all an enjoyable spring season ahead.