our president

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Lisa F. Tedeschi
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president's messages

A New Home

September 2006

On Friday morning, July 28, at 6:30 a.m., the Galligans—Susan, Patrick (21), Sarah (19), Aisling (16), Jennifer (14) and our two dogs, Barney and Zoë—piled into two cars in Knoxville, Tennessee, and headed for our new home at Colby-Sawyer College.

We managed to turn what should have been a 16-hour drive into over 18 hours, and at 1:00 a.m. we pulled into the driveway at 504 Main Street, New London. We were all tired and a little bit anxious as we opened the door and entered the house. All of us had visited the house before, but this was really it. We were entering our new home.

Walking in was a little like it must have been for Dorothy when she opened the door of the house and walked into Oz. The inside of our new home had been repainted, and some very wonderful work had been done since we last visited; the place was beautiful.

Suddenly, people were running around saying how good it looked, seeking out their rooms, yelling that they liked the colors, and tapping new sources of energy. About one hour later, as we settled in, Susan called me outside, and we looked up at a sky filled with more stars than we had ever seen before. Life was very good.

The next day the movers arrived, and the serious unpacking began. That unpacking will continue for awhile, and the positive energy of the first hours is still there. We are all grateful for the hard work of so many people at Colby-Sawyer and in the community who got the house ready for the Galligan onslaught and who have welcomed us so warmly.

Some folks have noticed that we managed to take a few breaks here and there from moving to put our Frisbee to good use in the best yard we have ever had. Sarah, Patrick and I have also found time to do a little running around town and have lived the truth that wherever we run to, we have to run uphill to get home.

The first week at work mirrored the week at home. I knew people at Colby-Sawyer would be wonderful, but they were fantastic. I have begun the process of visiting each department on campus and getting to know everyone a little bit better.

I plan to go from area to area over the next few weeks and learn as much as I can about the college and its most important asset, its people. We kicked off the process of getting to know one another better with an ice cream social on Monday, July 31, in the Thornton Living Room.

Sodexho Dining Services did their usual first class job of feeding all of us. Susan, Patrick and Aisling helped me represent the Galligan family.

Sarah and Jennifer did not make it because they were meeting Jennifer's best friend, Elizabeth Wallace, who was flying into Manchester to spend the week with us. Jenny and Elizabeth have been best friends since first grade, and Elizabeth wanted to make sure Jennifer's new home was to her liking; both Jenny and Elizabeth love it.

I knew work would be fun, and it has been. We have laughed and worked together very well so far. People have been most supportive of me and have let me know what I need to do. They have explained custom, tradition and protocol, and they have been incredibly flexible in dealing with my quirks.

I even had the opportunity to give my very first speech as president of Colby-Sawyer on the morning of Friday, August 4, to the New London Rotary Club. The following day, Susan and I rode in a horse-drawn carriage in the New London Hospital Days Parade.

I knew my work as president would be busy, and it has been. It has also been challenging, invigorating and educational. One of the reasons work has been so busy and educational is the issue of enrollment. Enrollment is our number one priority, and I'd like to tell you what we have done this past week to analyze our current enrollment situation.

The last ten years have been a fantastic decade for Colby-Sawyer. Under Anne Ponder's outstanding leadership, the college thrived and became much better in so many ways. Phil Jordan continued that tradition of great leadership last year as interim president. I am excited and eager to follow in Anne's and Phil's footsteps.

One of the things that happened over the last ten years was growth. Colby-Sawyer grew in stature and in size. In the years ahead we very much expect to continue to constantly improve and evolve.

However, we do not expect to grow in size in the near future. Indeed, it would be unwise to try to grow given that, according to the College Board, the number of high school graduates from New Hampshire and New England will decline by 11 and 12 percent respectively over the next decade.

What those demographic realities mean for us at Colby-Sawyer is that we are competing with many other fine schools for fewer students. I firmly believe that we offer a truly superior college experience for our students.

To name just a few of the ways in which we excel, our Liberal Education Program from Pathways to e-Portfolio is innovative, comprehensive, interdisciplinary and reflective. Our academic majors offer in-depth learning experiences, internships and a required Capstone experience.

Student development and academics are blended at Colby-Sawyer in ways that other colleges only dream about. Our athletic programs excel in competition and in sportsmanship, and we are located in one of the most beautiful places in America.

I could go on, but let me sum it up by saying that, at Colby-Sawyer, we make every decision by asking this question: how will our students benefit? Each time we ask and answer that question, we make a powerful value statement by which we live. It is the Colby-Sawyer way.

Just being a better college is not enough when it comes to enrollment. Of course, we have to keep getting better, but we also have to effectively communicate the Colby-Sawyer story to prospective students.

We have to find those students who will excel here, and then we have to personalize the Colby-Sawyer experience for them. We have to let them know what we value and who we are, and we have to enable them to envision themselves as a vital part of this dynamic community. We must continue to improve at what we do best at Colby-Sawyer, and we have to help prospective students get to know what that is and how we do it.

We have put together a task force to continue the enrollment analysis and, just as importantly, to help us all move forward with energy, enthusiasm and success. The task force, Personalizing Colby-Sawyer: The Focus on Enrollment, has already begun its important work, and we can all look forward to its success.

Issues that the task force will consider include communicating the importance of quality personal contact in the campus community and finding meaningful ways to demonstrate and describe our community perspectives, values and strengths.

We need to tell the Colby-Sawyer story while developing a comprehensive inter-departmental training program for Admissions staff and other key Colby-Sawyer communicators. Most importantly, we need to continue to build morale and a sense of teamwork in Admissions and across the campus.

I'm really looking forward to getting to know as many of you as possible. If you happen to be in the area and see me out on the roads running in one of my funny hats, please wave. It is great to be here.

Thomas C. Galligan Jr.

President and Professor of Humanities