BUIES CREEK -- Why did you choose to attend Campbell University? What are your favorite things about the school? And if you were the university’s president, what would you change and do for the student body?
Thirteen students met with Campbell President Jerry Wallace on Wednesday night, March 20, to answer these questions -- and ask Wallace some of their own -- as part of the President’s Dinner events that he and Vice President for Student Life Dennis Bazemore host about three times each semester.
Wallace said that he started the dinners three years ago because they give him the chance to engage with students in an informal setting and to hear directly from them about what they think about Campbell. “It gives me a chance to hear their interests, their needs and their dreams for Campbell,” he said.
Each semester, Wallace and Bazemore invite several dozen students to the dinners based on the recommendations of faculty and staff at Campbell. Bazemore said the 13 students who attended the dinner this past Wednesday reflected the range of students who typically attend the dinners, which are held in the President’s Dining Room in the Marshbanks Dining Hall. There were freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors; student athletes; leaders of campus organizations and student groups; majors from nearly a dozen disciplines; and students who are from towns and cities across the state and nation, from Mount Olive, N.C., to Hockessin, Del.
One of the students who attended the dinner was Macy Cook, a junior elementary education major from Shelby, N.C. “Events like the President’s Dinner show that Campbell’s administration is interested in hearing the voices of the student body it leads,” Cook said. “I loved giving my input on things that could be improved on campus, and knowing that my opinion is valued means a great deal.
“I just don’t think,” she added, “that students at other institutions have the comfort of knowing that their voices are heard.”
After the students and administrators ate dinner, Bazemore led the students in a roundtable discussion about why they chose to attend Campbell, what they like about the school and what they see as areas for improvement. What they suggested for the latter included adding additional lighting in parking lots and developing safer options for pedestrians to cross Highway 421. [See sidebar: "What the students said"]
Wallace then gave the students the opportunity to ask him questions. One question: What’s the status of the search for a new men’s basketball coach? (An athletics advisory committee chaired by Athletics Director Bob Roller has been formed to evaluate and interview candidates. They’ll recommend a couple of candidates to President Wallace, who’ll interview final candidates.)
And the second question: What’s the status of Greek Life? (Bazemore, the chair of a committee meeting regularly to plan Greek Life, said Student Life staff members have been visiting like-minded universities with Greek Life to get ideas; they’ve completed a policy document; and they’re planning an informational night about Greek Life that will be held before the semester ends.)
James Demmel, a junior religion major from Clayton, N.C., said being encouraged to ask questions “shows that Campbell really loves its students. For administrators to take the time to spend it with students -- we’re not just a number a here.”
After the question and answer session, Wallace concluded the evening by delivering a 20-minute talk about developments at the university. For example, he said, Campbell will become a Level-6 university when the School of Osteopathic Medicine opens in August 2013. “That’s the highest level of accreditation with our accrediting group,” Wallace said. “Only about four or five of all the colleges and universities in North Carolina have that.”
He also shared with the students his vision and plans for the university’s future, including improving housing, the student center and the look of campus; exploring adding additional schools; and retaining and attracting star faculty members.
“Campbell Pride is the highest I have ever known it, and I’ve been here 43 years . . .,” Wallace said. “But we have a lot of work to do, and that’s what we work at every day -- every day. Every Monday morning, the executives sit around the table and the topic we discuss is how can we improve [Campbell]. “
As Wallace talked about the university’s growth and future, Demmel said he kept thinking about how he was excited to be at Campbell and to be part of what was happening on campus. “I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be a Campbell student,” he said.
Olivia Bass, a sophomore English/education major from Spring Hope, N.C., said she was grateful to have the opportunity to hear other students talk about their time at Campbell and to hear Wallace discuss “where the university is now and where it hopes to be in the future.”
She added: “A regular event like the President's Dinner says that Campbell knows what makes this university great: the people. The administration recognizes that the university would not be where it is today without the voices and efforts of its students and faculty.”
Photo caption: Campbell University President Jerry Wallace sits between students Kyle Clark, a senior psychology and trust & wealth management major and a member of the football team, and John Meredith, a math major from Wilmington, N.C., during the President’s Dinner on Wednesday, March 20, held in the President’s Dining Room in the Marshbanks Dining Hall. Prepared by the Campus Dining Catering team, the meal Wednesday featured a salad, crab meat wrapped with flounder, pork loin with an apple glaze, wild rice, broccolini and cheesecake.
Article by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator