With the appointment of Jim Hood, Charles A. Dana Professor of English, as interim president on Feb. 23 the College is moving closer to the Quaker values that were slowly disappearing amid recent changes.
Guilford College and small liberal art colleges across the nation have demonstrated how easily they are threatened by sudden external factors. Among those external factors are the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing views on the importance of a liberal arts education.
Those external factors not only have created financial strain for the College, but have also caused emotional distress. The Guilford community has faced the upheaval of losing beloved professors and staff and potentially seeing such losses continue. We’ve seen uncertainty caused by fading Quaker values and the possibility of losing Guilford’s tradition of providing a liberal arts education. We were on the verge of so rapidly seeing those qualities diminished, but because of the faith exemplified by our community we are seeing those beloved qualities resurface.
Hood, who has held onto the values that he himself experienced during his time as a Guilford student, has demonstrated that he will carry the title of interim president with much respect and dignity. Through his dedication as a professor and community member, Hood has shown that he not only embodies the principles that make Guilford a community of social change, justice and peace, but he also puts them into practice.
At a March 16 Honors Program Q&A session, English professor and Honors Program director Heather Hayton said, “In my 17 years here, I have never had a president meet with Honors program students to ask about your experiences on campus or hopes for the future.” Hayton’s statement alludes to Hood’s willingness to hear and understand the needs of the College.
“. . .I so believe in this place; that’s why I am here” Hood said at the Q&A event, reaffirming his faith in the College. When asked about what his role as new interim president entails, Hood shared that he is actively working with the Admissions team to get people excited about the college and improve enrollment rates. He is also managing the work concerning reorganization of faculty and academic programs. Besides the logistical tasks of his new position, Hood emphasized how kindness and empathy for what current students are going through is an important part of his role as interim president.
We at the Guilfordian believe that Hood’s noble intentions will help maintain the Quaker spirit that is essential to our community. We are convinced that his work will facilitate a smooth transition for whoever takes on the challenge of becoming the next Guilford College president.