New Administrators Begin Wabash Tenure

Jim Amidon —Dr. Patrick White (right) was elected the 15th president of Wabash College at the end of January. About a month later Dr. White worked with President Andy Ford and an on-campus search committee to appoint Dr. Gary Phillips the academic dean of the college. About a month after that, Larry Griffith was named Wabash’s chief financial officer and treasurer.

This is the week when the three new administrators finally take office, and each greeted the Wabash community at a reception on Friday.

If you think about it, that’s a lot of transition for one summer: three of the six senior administrators have boxes stacked floor to ceiling in their offices (not to mention a few boxes on the floors of their new homes). And less than six weeks remain before students start returning to campus.

It’s been an emotional few months since all of the pieces fell into place. Knowing the three new members of the administration had been selected, the notion that the Ford era was coming to an end became reality.

Wabash experienced a prosperous 13 years under Andy’s leadership, and the college is now poised to build on those remarkable successes.

For example, it is President White’s hope to make the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts — founded during Andy’s presidency the place where higher education turns for research and data on the efficacy of the liberal arts.

While the Malcolm X Institute is 35 years old, its new building was part of Wabash’s Campaign for Leadership. With a new leader in Tim Lake, President White hopes to make the MXI more than a cultural center; to make it a nationally recognized center for serious study of the African American experience.

The new construction and renovation of Wabash’s nine fraternity houses was begun under President Ford and will be completed by Pat White and his team.

Immersion Learning programs — from weeklong study abroad trips to the Ecuadorian Studies Program — will be further developed and funded by President White and Dean Phillips (photo left).

The national climate regarding single sex education has changed greatly in the last 10 years. Research indicates that the percentage of men on liberal arts college campuses is dropping; more than six in 10 college students are women. Wabash, which has steadfastly remained a college for men, is poised now to play a powerful role in the national conversation on how to best educate young men.

Much of the heavy lifting — fund raising and construction —†was completed in the Ford era. It will be President White’s opportunity to take what Wabash is and make it stronger; to make the Wabash Center, Center of Inquiry, and MXI nationally recognized institutes of research and study; to further develop innovative teaching and learning programs; and to be an active player in the exceedingly important discussion of the education of young men.

And using their imagination, President White and his team will no doubt develop programs we’ve not yet considered.

Indeed, it is an exciting time at Wabash. There will be a few bumps in the road, but there also is widespread enthusiasm and support for the new leadership and the opportunities such change provides.