First blog, first impressions. Today I begin writing my first blog as the 11th President of the University of the Southwest, nearly one month after beginning in this position on February 16th. Although it seems like I have been well engaged in the business of the University for quite a while now (probably because the job search began with an interview last November, followed by a campus interview, a job offer, and many weeks that followed planning a departure and a relocation) the reality is that I am a new president and I likely will be referred to as such for the rest of this year and maybe even the year that comes after.
For those who read this blog and think they may in fact read others in the future, my intent is to share insights, stories of encounters and impressions, and glimpse into the future. Occasionally I may even attempt a commentary on general developments in higher education. My blogs ordinarily will not be long but I do intend them to be frequent, on the order of four or so each month. Having laid out the guidelines, let’s get started with some initial impressions.
First, I cannot express in words how excited I am to have been selected by the USW Board of Trustees to be the President here. It truly is a great honor to be affiliated with such an institution teaming with wonderful people, rich tradition and great expectations. It also is located in an inviting and vibrant community that my wife and I are proud to call home!
Second, I am indebted to President Gary Dill for his support, trust, and friendship during my transition. Gary left this institution in great shape with excellent staff, faculty, and students and I feel truly blessed with all that he has entrusted to me as he and Marilyn make a new home in Alpine, Texas. Gary’s kindness and thoughtfulness left an indelible and lasting impression on USW that is central to our identity as a faith community that is sincerely committed to the spiritual and educational development of our students.
Third, it is my encounters with people on campus and throughout Hobbs that have left me awestruck about the Goodness of God. God’s generosity in permitting me to lead an institution where such bright and inquisitive students have gathered to learn and grow is an extraordinary privilege. I am impressed that all on campus understand that making decisions and providing instruction and services that directly benefit our students is our primary responsibility. Everything we do emanates from our commitment to student success. This begins with recruitment (which is why we have relocated both the Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid to the direct supervision of the Vice President for Enrollment Management), involves retention (which includes academic advising and instruction), and culminates in graduation.
Finally, I am inspired by the opportunity to bring to this campus a fresh perspective that might be applied to discerning the prospect for future growth and expansion. USW is a wonderful place for students to study and develop into young adults and I am glad to be one of those who undoubtedly will have the chance to learn and grow along with them. Already we have announced the addition of six new sports that will begin their first seasons in the upcoming academic year. With this, we will welcome in just a few short months new coaches and new students who will enrich our residential campus community further. Expansion in on-campus course offerings will follow and academic programming will need to expand which will mean more faculty and staff. As our Athletic Director likes to say, “It is a great time to be a Mustang.” I couldn’t agree more!