Catawba’s own decision 2012 comes to an end but promises many new beginnings
September 17, 2012
The school year began with many different changes across campus. On the surface, the student body can see the new signs, newly remodeled cafeteria and various other campus renovations under way. A big change that has occurred on campus that may not be as apparent to some students yet, however, is the recent change in leadership.
Catawba College welcomed Mr. Brien Lewis to the campus in the spring of this year after he was chosen during the Board of Trustee’s national, year-long search for a new president. He will be officially inaugurated into his position at the conclusion of Homecoming Weekend on Sunday, October 28th in Keppel Auditorium.
Since beginning his work here, President Lewis has spent a great amount of time meeting one-on-one with each faculty and staff member as well as our Student Government Association. In an interview with the Salisbury Post, Mr. Lewis mentioned that the first step he was taking was to act as a sponge and spend his time listening and absorbing all the information he could.
That was last spring, but Lewis confirms that, in a sense, one should always be in a listening mode. He went on to say that one of the rising themes that he collected from his personal interviews and discussions with each department on campus is complaints of poor communication. This included issues with departments communicating within and among each other. The President is already combating this issue by sending emails to the campus detailing what projects he and other departments are working on. He also continuously reminds those he speaks with to bring areas of interest or concern to either his attention or to the attention of someone who can handle the topic at hand. Lewis’ greatest fear, he concluded, is that people will be afraid to bring things to his attention.
From the student perspective, Lewis brings more than a skill for keeping phone lines open. “In a sense, I grew up in higher education,” said Lewis. His mother was an English professor at York University, Canada’s third largest university. Not only that, but he is a father of two teenage children. Lewis says he constantly thinks of his children in his role. “They interact with the world differently from me.” Lewis went on to say that he is interested in the full college experience. He served as UNC Chapel Hill’s first non-American president for the student body in the Student Government Association and says, in many ways, the platform he ran on then continues to correspond to his presidency now. His attention is focused on a whole range of college issues, suggesting he has the student body’s interest at heart.
With the current economy, money tends to be not only on most students’ minds but hearts as well. President Lewis assures that there are investments that he wants to make that will help to keep tuition costs down. These include investing in prospective students and looking into increasing the student body size as well as exploring capital fees and perhaps working with dedicated revenue streams. Lewis used tactics like these at Winthrop University as Vice President of University Development and Alumni Relations and it worked well.
However, all the money in the world cannot fix a school that finds its own threats from within campus. At the end of the day, the students make this (and any other) college a success. The President sends a message to the students, reminding them to use personal responsibility in every situation.