Dear Georgetown College community,
In 1991, I was selected to be the 23rd president of Georgetown College. I was 39 years old and full of vision and hope for how this institution could move forward in preparing students for the frontier. I was challenged by the trustees to protect the academic freedom of this institution while finding ways to strengthen the traditional method of learning at Georgetown (i.e. small classrooms, overhead projectors, landline connections and textbooks purchased in the bookstore). Texting, social media, wireless Internet and even cell phones were not a part of our vocabulary at that time. Now, two decades later, we look to a future where technology will continue its rapid evolution and, in turn, advance the methods of learning we currently apply. For leaders in higher education, it is a very challenging yet exciting time period.
So where are we today at GC? We are nervous. Students, you are anxious about exams and papers, but now more than ever, you are also concerned about personal finances and the emotional issues they present for your families. And now, many of you are concerned about the well-being of the faculty you love. Staff, I appreciate your concern for the health of our students and understand your employment anxiety. And faculty, I know that you care for your students and are concerned about our ability to provide the proper tools for classroom development. On top of that, I know you worry about your careers and the college’s future in a rapidly changing higher-education environment.
Let me tell you why I have hope:
• We have a remarkable story with many chapters. Telling this story would include conversations about Fulbright scholars, the Oxford program, student diversity accomplishments, decades of athletic success, nationally-recognized faculty, new dorms, community service as a way of life and we could list even more.
• We have a strong and dedicated Board of Trustees. They are well aware of our financial and residential housing challenges and are working to create strategies for the future. They have sought expert outside advice, are prepared to listen internally to ideas, and then will make the decisions they feel necessary to move forward. These trustees are men and women who are culturally and ethnically diverse. They’re ministers, educators, financial experts, and entrepreneurs. They’re alumni, parents of alumni, and they’re all Christians. Earl Goode, class of ‘62, is their chairman. His day job is to serve as the chief of staff for the governor of Indiana, and prior to that, he was the CEO of GTE Informational Services. The vice chair is Bill Houston, CEO of Houston Consulting and the father of two GC alumni, and his company advises small businesses in financial difficulties. Our trustees are fiscally responsible for Georgetown College and will see us through this time. To say we have a financial challenge is correct. To predict economic demise is not accurate or fair to these capable people.
• We are restructuring our enrollment recruiting efforts and have already experienced early success. What we need now is a more optimistic tone on our campus, from smiles to one another to pride in the appearance of our campus. We also need students to be positive ambassadors back home. So why did I announce my retirement now?
• I feel a sense of personal accomplishment about my achievements at Georgetown.
• A college president’s job is never ending, seven days a week. I have high energy, but 21 years at this pace is long enough.
• We now have six grandchildren who are six years old and younger. The closest ones live seven hours away. My wife and I need and want to be with them more.
• Recently, energy has been expended analyzing my leadership. This is creating turmoil on campus and across the area, which is full of perspective students, parents of students, and GC alums. One of our most important strategies right now should be to focus attention on how great this institution is, the pride we feel to be GC Tigers and how blessed we are to “Live, Learn and Believe” at this place.
I will be your president until June 30, 2013. And until that day, I will work as hard now as I have in the past. I love Georgetown College and am grateful to have served here for the past 21 years. Now, let’s draw people to Georgetown with our collective positive energy!
William H. Crouch, Jr President