Warren Wilson College News

July 30, 2009 Report to Campus

By: Sandy Pfeiffer
July has been a busy month on campus. We hosted a record-size summer Open House for prospective students, the Swannanoa Gathering has its highest enrollment ever, the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival had a successful season, our MFA writing program graduated another fine class of writers, and the College continues to attract national praise. We’re in great shape going into the new academic year.

Also, the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) had its annual retreat this month. We focused most of our attention on the Strategic Planning process that will set college goals for the next five years. Soon you’ll receive an invitation to a Planning Day to be held early in the semester. At this event, students, staff, and faculty will discuss parts of the proposed Strategic Plan such as “vision and core values” and “strategic priorities.” The Board of Trustees has asked me to submit a draft of our completed plan near the end of the semester, so we have much work ahead for the fall.

At the PAC retreat this week, we spent a good deal of time discussing ways to strengthen connections between and among academics, work, and service. Because the hallmark of our college and arguably its most distinctive feature is the Triad, it deserves constant attention. Students come to our campus expecting an education that honors academics, work, and service. With this expectation in mind, I’ve been concerned that the decision I made last year to embed Service-Learning within Academic Affairs—as a pilot program—was perceived by some to diminish or devalue Service-Learning. Therefore, this week I asked PAC members if they would support restoring a top administrative structure to Service-Learning that is parallel to other major units of the College. They all agreed they could support such a proposal, and I’ve decided to implement it. The change is summarized below.

Although we need to strengthen connections between Service-Learning and Academic Affairs—and we’ll be doing so—I’m now convinced an independent Service-Learning program is needed for both practical and symbolic reasons. Therefore, soon we’ll begin a search for a dean of Service-Learning, who will report to the president of the College. The goal will be to have a dean in place by July 2010. While the search process is being conducted, we need an interim dean to oversee Service-Learning and serve on PAC. Franklin Tate has graciously agreed to continue in the role he had last year as interim dean—as of August 1. In other words, he will be reporting to me, not to the vice president for academic affairs as announced previously.

Again, soon you’ll receive information about the Planning Day. Then at the August 11 Convocation, I’ll have more to say about planning and about an issue of particular importance to me in the year ahead—fundraising. I look forward to seeing all of you back on campus in a couple weeks.

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