The College Board of Trustees learned at their annual retreat May 14-16 in Blowing Rock that a leadership team is now in place to launch an Endowment Campaign for Catawba College.
Last year, trustees authorized College officials to begin work on a strategic plan which affirmed Catawba’s historic identity as a four-year, residential college while seeking to become a “more selective” institution. At that time, College officials chose a group of nine aspirant institutions with which to compare Catawba, including Birmingham Southern, Roanoke College, Centre College, Wofford College, and Presbyterian College. All of these colleges have high academic standards and recruit top academic students, in part with large endowments that make generous scholarships possible for deserving students. Significant growth in Catawba’s endowment is therefore critical in order for the College to shift its status from a selective to a more selective institution.
Administrators sought leaders for the Endowment Campaign from the membership of the Board of Trustees. Chester A. “Junie” Michael, III of Mooresville, a 1970 graduate and president of Parkway Ford in Winston-Salem, agreed to serve as campaign chairman. Trustees James F. Hurley and Ralph W. Ketner, both of Salisbury, will serve as honorary co-chairmen. Hurley is the former publisher of The Salisbury Post, the daily newspaper his grandfather founded, while Ketner is one of the founders and chairman emeritus of Food Lion, Inc. Trustee William M. Graham of Salisbury, a 1983 graduate and a partner in the firm of Wallace and Graham, will serve as Rowan County chairman.
In addition to these leaders, the Campaign Steering Committee will include trustees Darlene L. Ball ’62 of Greensboro, Barry D. Leonard ’65 of Greensboro, Samuel A. Penninger, Jr. ’63 of Alpharetta, Ga., Charles G. Potts ’53 of Charlotte, Richard J. Seiwell ’67 (ex-officio) of West Chester, Pa., Ronald L. Smith of Salisbury, and Tom E. Smith ’64 (ex-officio) of Salisbury.
Steering committee members will provide direction and leadership to the campaign through its public phase, expected to begin next year with the announcement of a campaign name and goal. Additionally, the committee will be called on periodically to review and approve general fundraising policies and related public relations issues. It will receive and evaluate periodic reports, review the campaign’s progress, and will help identify and recruit additional volunteers as needed.
Other business matters which trustees considered included unanimous approval of the College’s preliminary 2004-2005 operating budget, based on an overall enrollment of 1360 students (including students in the day and evening programs). They also unanimously endorsed the Quality Enhancement Plan, now being developed by College faculty and staff as part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ reaffirmation of accreditation process. Dr. Jesse McCartney, executive assistant to the president, explained the reaffirmation process. He also shared information concerning endowment and enrollment trends, student credentials, retention and faculty salary data, comparing Catawba with its nine aspirant institutions.
Trustees heard reports on admissions and enrollment, retention efforts, the work of a new endowment committee, the College’s computer services challenges, and the research associated with the possible construction of a new library/information center on campus.
Dr. Russell Watjen, vice president and dean of admissions, reported on admissions efforts to recruit next year’s class. He also described marketing and recruiting processes being implemented to recruit better academically qualified students in the future.
Dr. Barbara Hetrick, vice president and dean of the college, reported on retention efforts. “For each student, we have to enhance both the reality and the perception that graduating from Catawba is valuable,” she explained.
A recent First-Year Seminar reunion allowed students to interview each other and provided College administrators with valuable insights on what is being done well and what areas need to be improved. Acting on those student responses allowed administrators to “show that we heard, that we care, and are listening,” said Dean Hetrick.
Hetrick said 93 percent of students eligible to return to campus in the fall have registered for classes and have schedules. This is a substantial percentage increase over prior years.
Joanna Jasper, Director of Computer Services, described the current status of information technology on campus and outlined the goals for improving this technology in the future.
A dinner for trustees and their spouses was held May 14 at the Blowing Rock Country Club and afforded Catawba President Dr. Knott an opportunity to provide an overview of work underway at the College.
He told those gathered that “we are beginning to see some progress” in moving the college from a selective to a more selective institution. He noted that the student affairs staff, as well as the faculty, have “worked hard to raise expectations of students in the residence halls and on campus” by demanding accountability and providing programming that students find engaging. During Catawba’s recent Spring Fling activities on campus, more than 500 students took part.
A recent freshman seminar retreat at which faculty members discussed next year’s seminars, Knott said, was “not just a nuts and bolts discussion about teaching skills. Faculty members talked at great length about how to create a campus culture that elevates students, faculty, and staff alike.”
Knott cited the work of Confucius who successfully transformed the culture of ancient China and encouraged trustees to join other members of the College community in “transforming lives.”