By: Sandy Pfeiffer
In March, campus activities began to accelerate to a pace that won’t slow until Commencement, after which point the summer cycle starts—with summer work crews, the Gathering music festival, our culinary school, and more. Recently Sam Scoville told me that in summers past, faculty and staff labored together on projects like painting buildings and the like. Though I don’t suspect we’ll return to that model, hearing about it reminded me that we live in a special community with a unique history and culture. We’re also special in how we handle spiritual matters, so I thought I would speak to that issue in this month’s report.
Last Saturday we celebrated the life of our friend and colleague Andy Summers at a memorial service in the Chapel. The attendance of over 500 is a testament to the many lives Andy touched in our community and beyond. His death is a great loss to our campus. In true Warren Wilson fashion, people have reached out to support each other, which has been an important part of the healing process for all of us.
We now face the task of finding someone to take on the responsibilities that were Andy’s. The position description is being altered just slightly, in part because Andy’s work was defined by his many talents and passions, and it would be impossible to find someone with the same combination of interests and skills. We also want to take this opportunity to differentiate the position we call College Chaplain (held by Steve Runholt) from the position for which we are searching. Toward that end, the position Andy held will change title from Campus Minister to Director of Spiritual Life, so that it’s even more clear that the individual in the role will address the diverse spiritual needs of all members of our community.
The new Director of Spiritual Life will continue Andy’s work of supporting students in the area of religious and spiritual life, as well as maintaining a focus on social justice, equity, and diversity. Teaching at least one academic course each year also will remain part of the job description, as will working closely with Service Learning. The position is being posted with the hope that we will be able to fill it while students are still on campus this spring, so that they can help with the selection process.
You may recall that the “vision statement” I’ve been sharing with you by email mentions the need to respond to the spiritual needs of our entire community. I believe our ability to do just that will result from the support the Chaplain and the Director of Spiritual Life provide our campus. Further, the individual who becomes our new Alumni and Church Relations Coordinator (with search to start this summer) will assist in this regard. Spiritual life is, has been, and always will be an important part of the life of this campus.