Warren Wilson College News

August Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer
Since my last report, the fine work of many members of our community has brought recognition to the College. I’ll mention a few examples in this report, while also including brief updates on service, enrollment, budget, and governance.

If you’ve been to a bookstore or newsstand in the last few days, you may have seen the director of our Farm, Chase Hubbard, pictured on the cover of WNC Magazine. The cover reads “Back to the Land: Warren Wilson College—Learn How This Swannanoa School is Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers.” It’s a nice piece about how our Triad and our Farm work program teach students “about both agricultural and environmental responsibility.” It also emphasizes the Farm’s contributions to our campus food supply. Besides Chase, the following staff, faculty, students, and graduates are mentioned in the article: Jed Brown, Liz Doyle, Aaron Grier, Amy Kunkel, Laura Lengnick, Meredith McKissick, and Ian Robertson.

Warren Wilson also was one of 10 colleges and universities included in the cover story (“10 Coolest Schools: Our Annual Green College Guide”) of the current issue of Sierra Magazine. Reprising our inclusion in the first “top 10” list last year, this year Warren Wilson was #4 among nine other prestigious national schools, all of which are larger than Wilson. A few included in the group were Middlebury (#1), Evergreen State (#5), Arizona State (#6), Oberlin (#8), and Tufts (#10). Here’s one quotation from the article: “Forgoing football games and frats, Warren Wilson Fighting Owls work 15 hours per week plowing the college’s organic fields or helping with eco-friendly building projects.” My thanks to all of you, especially the staff of the Environmental Leadership Center (ELC), for helping the College gain the attention of the Sierra staff, who chose us from among hundreds of other colleges and universities doing serious environmental work.

Speaking of publications, many of our faculty and staff conduct research and publish books or articles related to their work at the College, but here I want to highlight one “labor of love” book that just came out. Our long-time paddling instructor, Will Leverette, just had his book, A History of Whitewater Paddling in Western North Carolina: Water Wise, published by The History Press. I started reading it this weekend and can tell you, after completing about half of it, that it’s a well-written and intriguing tribute to the many people, including Will’s friends and relatives, who ventured into the rivers of western North Carolina in the early days of white-water paddling—often with little equipment and always with a whole lot of courage. The book gives the reader a good sense of what it means to “go with the flow” in all the right ways.

Moving from publicity and scholarship to service, many thanks to all of you who took part in Service Day 2008 on August 22 and especially to the Service Learning staff, led by Interim Dean of Service-Learning Franklin Tate. Several hundred staff, faculty, and students worked on diverse projects in the Black Mountain area. Organizations served included the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women, the Presbyterian Home for Children, and Black Mountain Recreation and Parks Department. Another service program that recently had its kick-off event is INSULATE, a partnership with many community organizations to insulate the homes of low-income homeowners in our area. With the leadership of our own ELC work crew, the first home will be insulated on September 13.

Now for a few comments on the state of the College after this first month of the new academic year. As I mentioned in a previous report, we had more students accept our offers of admission than we anticipated and thus we started the year with a slightly higher enrollment than expected. I want to thank the many faculty and staff who have helped adjust to a few more students—for example, by adding class sections and by making some changes in Gladfelter to shorten the lines. Although the extra students helped with our always-tight budget, we’ll aim for a slightly lower enrollment next fall and adjust our budget accordingly. Speaking of the budget, I’ve previously announced that the campus community will have an opportunity to hear about and comment on the preliminary budget for next year. Soon you’ll be receiving information about this community meeting from Jonathan Ehrlich, our vice president for administration and finance.

Finally, I want to elaborate on an offer I’ve made to student, staff, and faculty groups about their representatives meeting periodically with the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) to share information. Having discussed this plan with the PAC, I believe the best approach will be to hold a meeting once or twice each semester with a group that includes the PAC, two students, two staff members, and two faculty. I’m asking the Student Caucus to select the two students who will attend, and I’m asking the Staff Forum and Faculty Body to work together to determine the two staff members and two faculty members who will attend. Rowena Pomeroy in my office will arrange the first meeting for later this semester.

I hope all of you have a fine academic year ahead, and I’ll be seeing you at various events around campus.

Sandy Pfeiffer

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