Faculty reflect on the Prez Elect
Grace Cavanaugh ~ Co-Editor in Chief
Faculty at the University of Lynchburg are enthusiastic and optimistic about the pending tenure of President- Elect, Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar.
Dr. Beth Savage, assistant director of the Westover Honors college, said, “All I have heard and read has been very good about her, both in terms of what she was able to accomplish at other campuses and in her enthusiasm about coming to Lynchburg. She has a breadth of experience, working at every level of the college hierarchy, and I think that will be an excellent background for her to be a great leader here.”
Dr. Savage continued, “I was only able to meet her briefly, but she seems to bring great energy to campus when she comes, and my students say she has gone out of her way to find opportunities to meet and spend time with them when she is on campus. Her commitment to getting to know everyone personally fits perfectly with our close-knit campus community, and hopefully communicates to students that she has their best interests at the center of her plans for the University.”
Dr. Richard Burke, professor of English and Richard H. Thornton chair, said, “I have met her very briefly twice. My first impression was that she seemed very friendly, very outgoing, very personable. Regarding her as the next president of the University of Lynchburg, I thought that she came across as very professional, even while she was being personable. I was impressed.”
Jeff Wittman, professor and chair of theatre, said, “I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Morrison-Shetlar at the academic fair last weekend. I found her to be optimistic and energetic. And she really is making herself available to the faculty members to get to know them and learn about their areas. She is making a point to come and visit with everyone. She sees good things for the university and that she is willing to embrace the faculty and get to know them in a strong way.”
Dr. Jennifer Styrsky, the assistant professor of environmental science, said, “I have seen her from a distance, but I have not actually met her. I have heard she is very friendly and approachable and that she is trying to make connections with students and faculty. And I know that she is encouraging everybody to get connected on LinkedIn. She is trying to build community.”
Dr. Savage said, “She has indicated that one of her goals will be to spread our reach further geographically in terms of recruiting students and name recognition generally, and I think that is a great goal and one that will help us to both showcase and build on student successes and faculty strengths. What I am most excited about is what she will do for the University that we cannot now envision: it always helps growth and progress to get a fresh perspective, and Dr. Morrison-Shetlar brings an international perspective as well as knowledge and experience from multiple other successful campuses that will enrich our campus in exciting ways that may be beyond our current ways of thinking about our institution.”
Dr. Burke added, “I think it is a good gesture to meet everyone on campus. She will get a sense of the university by doing that she probably would not get otherwise. And it is a way of signaling to every student, every staff member, every administrator and every faculty member that she actually does care about them, their well-being, their presence here on campus. So in that regard, it is very good.”
Dr. Styrsky said, “I would certainly like to see her continue encouraging the renovations of Hobbs. So we certainly need a lot of work here as far as new facilities in the science building. So with her science background, I am sure this is something she is very interested in, too.”
According to Dr. Savage, “This is a time of great change for our campus, and Dr. Morrison-Shetlar seems like she will be a thoughtful, dedicated, and energetic leader to guide us through it.”
“I [hope she] continues the wonderful leadership that we have had and to find new ways of embracing education for the future,” said Wittman.
Dr. Burke said, “I sincerely hope that the university will thrive with her as our president. I think she has a background that prepares for well, for dealing with the financial challenges that face this university. And that is about the best we can hope for. We do not know. Nobody can know what exactly is going to happen in the next five and 10 and 20 years. But I think she brings to the job the sort of experiences that will help her lead us.”
Dr. Styrsky finished with, “I am very excited that she is here and coming in as our new president.”