by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief
President Steve Solnick spoke at this year’s first community meeting last Wednesday, Sept. 4 to “give people a sense of where we are as a college.”
Solnick highlighted some changes over the summer, including several new hires and “new opportunities” for the college. The main focus of the meeting, however, which was well-attended by staff, students and faculty alike, was the college’s budget.
The school’s current enrollment is at 833 students—100 fewer students than the target enrollment. In addition, the school has spent more money on financial aid this year than ever before.
“We’re facing a tight budget this year and next,” Solnick said.
Solnick emphasized the importance of investing, marketing to potential students and donors, and “spending smarter.”
“There will be areas in which we’re doing things differently,” he said. “We’re asking you to bear with us.”
Plans to build the new president’s home on Fortune Property have been “indefinitely postponed.” Fundraising for the new academic building that will replace Carson Hall, which was demolished two summers ago, takes precedence, Solnick said. The building will cost roughly $6 million.
“All resources are going to that,” Solnick said.
However, Solnick said, these are all meetable challenges, noting that other institutions are experiencing greater hardships.
“Other colleges would kill to have our financial problems right now,” he said. “They’re struggling more to attract students. . . I’m confident enrollment will recover. We do college differently. We need to convey that pride.”
The Cabinet, which includes the president and the Deans of the college, this summer developed a list of two-year goals for Warren Wilson:
- Enhance the triad across the college, bringing it into the academic curriculum
- Raise the reputation of the college
- Work toward diversifying the college, campus-wide
- Continue and enhance our commitment to environmental sustainability and resiliency
- Achieve both short-term and long-term financial sustainability
- Increase enrollment and retention
- Achieve re-accreditation from SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) that is currently under way