In her decade at Colby-Sawyer College, Judy Muyskens served as academic vice president for seven years before taking on two other positions, the vice president for Advancement and the interim vice president for Enrollment and College Relations. She played a large role in shaping the college's new Liberal Education Program and its distinctive Pathway Seminars, and was the first faculty-in-residence in Abbey Hall. Judy reflects on an unforgettable decade in which her roles and the college itself evolved in all kinds of unexpected and exciting ways.
Your career at Colby-Sawyer has been unusual in that you've held vice president positions in three different areas of the college. What was most interesting and challenging about each of these roles?
I served as academic vice president from 1998 to 2005 and really loved working with the faculty and drew energy from my relationships with them. I was impressed right from the start with how dedicated and hard-working the faculty is at Colby-Sawyer College.
The most challenging thing that we did together was to revise the Liberal Education Program. We spent two years coming up with values and guiding principles, which lead us naturally to the six learning outcomes. We also created the Pathways program, which is unique because of the two seminars with one theme and the fact that students and faculty come together again in their sophomore year.
The way the Liberal Education Program flows from the first through fourth years with such clarity and integration also sets Colby-Sawyer apart. Through my role as academic vice president, I learned how to practice my liberal arts skillscritical thinking, communication and humility, among other skills
I served in the role of vice president for Advancement from June 2005 to September 2006. I especially enjoyed working with our alumni and friends of the college. I found this exposure to the external side of the college very fulfilling and learned so much about the advancement profession from my colleagues in Advancement. They are wonderful professionals who care so much about the institution.
I am also very proud of the size of the Annual Fund of 2005-2006our highest up to that point. I was very excited to work on the plans for fund-raising for a new fine arts center.
On your vice president for Enrollment Management* role:* I have to say that I really loved this job. I wanted a new challenge and wanted to change the downward trend of our enrollment. This team of counselors, operations and financial aid staff is so wonderful and energetic. I was so happy being surrounded by them each day while learning the enrollment profession. It was fun to meet prospective students and their families as well.
You've been at Colby-Sawyer nearly a decade. How would you summarize its evolution while you were here?
When I arrived in 1998, Colby-Sawyer was just finding its new self. By that I mean that President Anne Ponder had been on campus for almost two years. She had led conversations about the future and developed a strategic plan with the campus community. The campus was ready to move to the next level, to think about the academic atmosphere, raise expectations and evaluate its work.
The time had come to look at the entire experience of each student. We were able to blend student learning inside and outside the classroom. We developed a blended approach to learning as we revised the Liberal Education Program.
We also developed several programs focusing on excellenceincreased faculty development funds, more sabbatical possibilities, endowed chairs for faculty, and the Wesson Honors Program. The college became a well coordinated institution in which everyone had a shared view of how we should educate our students.
During those ten years the college completed a record capital campaign. All in all, Colby-Sawyer College seemed to have a renewed sense of pride in its work. The results of the NEASC reaccreditation process reinforced everything that we all had accomplished.
I know that with such wonderful faculty and staff, Colby-Sawyer College will continue to develop unique, high quality programs. The excellent trustees and senior staff along with the great new president, Tom Galligan, will steward the future of the college and determine what is next for Colby-Sawyer.
I hope that there will be more international experiences for our students and faculty in order to add an outward looking aspect to the college. Our students need to be prepared for this diverse, global world.
You've been involved in so many different initiatives in your tenure here. What are some of the accomplishments that you and your colleagues have made that you are most proud of?
I consider the Pathways program my legacy. I was so fortunate to lead this initiative. The entire college (through our across the college approach) considered what skills students will need to live in the 21st century.
We all came up with the learning outcomes and every office talked about how they contributed to those outcomes. Then the faculty worked on the curriculum and others talked about how they could contribute to the learning and development of the student.
Through this unity in planning we developed a consistent approach to educating the whole student. The college is now more understanding and appreciative of how each campus community member contributes to the education of each student. We created a truly integrated learning experience. We were cited, for example, in Peer Review for this integrated approach.
The curriculum is unique as well. Faculty are able to teach a passion. There is an interesting blend of individual interests of faculty and students with the common goals and expectations of the Pathways program. I hope that these two things (interests and high expectations) will keep the program fresh, evolving and demanding.
You initiated the faculty-in-residence program and spent a year living in Abbey Hall with your husband and dog. When you look back on your experiences, what is most memorable and meaningful to you about that experience?
I remember this experience with such fondness. I was sad to miss Commencement this year because several young women who lived with me in Abbey Hall graduated. After that year, I admire college students so much. I was able to witness the complications of their daily lives and the stress with which they live. I think this knowledge made me a better instructor and administrator.
I also came to admire the staff in the residence halls, campus activities, safety and Sodexho because I was able to observe their daily work and how much they contribute to the our students' education. During that year I enjoyed working on educational programs with all of the resident directors and resident assistants. My best memories are of the evenings sitting in the lobby in my pajamas talking over popcorn to students.
What will you miss about Colby-Sawyer? What would you like to say to your former colleagues?
I already miss the people at Colby-Sawyer College. I knew almost everyone who worked there. The dedication of the faculty and staff and the high expectations of everyone make CSC unique. Students who attend CSC are truly fortunate.
I want to thank everyone for everything they taught me during my near decade there. I hope that anyone traveling through Kentucky will come to Berea, a small town full of arts and crafts.
Please tell us about your new position. What excites you about the new job?
The position of vice president for Academic Programs is a new one, endowed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Mellon has a specific focus on Appalachia (because of where Mellon made his money) and has given much support to the ACA. The VPAP is to work with the chief academic officers of the 36-member institutions to determine what teaching-learning initiatives will benefit the students in Central Appalachiathe five state area that the ACA supports.
The ACA is now seeking a new president. The VPAP was named now to aid in the transition. I'm excited about helping to determine the future of this organization which is crucial to these colleges, some of which have very low endowments. The ACA's Bowen Central Library shares library materials which ensure the accreditation of many of the member institutions. In addition, the ACA's faculty development funds and student awards enhance the quality of learning in the member organizations.
I'm excited about the future initiatives which include providing more international opportunities for faculty and students and focusing on assessment of our learning outcomes. I love visiting the campuses and meeting the academic officers, faculty and librarians. As you know, I like challenges and learning new things so this is an ideal position.