News Archive

Randolph College Celebrates Inauguration

Local newspaper sits down with President Klein

10/24/2008 10:16:20 AM


The following story was published in the Lynchburg News & Advance Oct. 24. It is reprinted with permission.

By Christa Desrets

Of all the aspects of Randolph College President John Klein’s job description, this was not one of them.

During the night of the school’s traditional fall Pumpkin Parade, when sophomores give personalized jack-o-lanterns to seniors, the college president must sing.

Klein was perplexed about that when he learned about it last fall, in his first year as president.

This fall, he was more prepared.

“This year we did some words especially made up by the college for the song, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’” he said in a recent interview.

And students chimed in on part of the refrain.

It was an altogether different moment from some others faced by Klein when he began the last school year, the college’s first after becoming a co-ed institution.

This weekend, the former Randolph-Macon Woman’s College celebrates Klein’s inauguration as the ninth president.

In a recent interview, Klein reflected on the challenges of his first year as well as the school’s future and its students.

“I would say that the most enjoyable thing (as president) has been the students and the sense of community at the college,” he said.

What are a few of your accomplishments since becoming president, and what lies ahead?
I think we had a large number of accomplishments last year, which overshadow all the controversy of the fall.

We persuaded our accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, to remove the college from financial warning (which had been issued in December 2006). And for the first time in two years, the college is not subject to any lawsuits, especially the lawsuits about its decision to become a coeducational institution.

Our greatest focus now will be on enrollment, and raising the financial resources necessary to meet our needs.

Before coming on as president, you said that you wanted to preserve a sense of community at the school. Do you think that has been accomplished?
“The sense of community remains, and has been strengthened.

Our first gathering at the beginning of the year was convocation, and a new spirit was evident. At the end of the speeches with the traditional singing of the college song, the students joined arms across the aisle in the (Smith Hall) Theatre and sang together. I had never seen anything (like it).

It was really a beautiful sight looking down from the stage.”

Where do you see the college in five to 10 years?
“We have a strategic plan that was adopted in September of 2006, and that calls us to grow our enrollment to 1,100 students (from about 600 now), and that is what we intend to do over the next five to 10 years. But we’re also going to start new programs and hire new faculty and staff.”

How do you work through the current tough economic times?
“Clearly, the financial meltdown in September and October is going to hurt us, as it will hurt all colleges. And we really are no different except for the fact that we are fortunate to have such a large endowment ($153 million) for a college of our size.

“Interestingly enough, our investment committee took a defensive posture on our investments in the endowment last February, and that had put us in a better position to weather the current economic challenges. But it will still hurt.”

Does the college have any plans for the three remaining pieces of artwork it planned to sell last year?
“I would say that we still plan to sell the three paintings, but the current conditions of the economy have made that much mor

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations