Staff Editorial: Guilford’s past leadership and the road ahead

October ushered in another change in Guilford College’s leadership. On Oct. 6, an email from Board of Trustees Chair Ed Winslow announced the appointment of Kyle Farmbry as the College’s new president. Farmbry’s appointment marks the third major shift in Guilford’s administration in a little over a year. 

According to an article on the Guilford Giving page of Guilford’s website, Farmbry previously served as the Dean of the Graduate School at Rutgers Newark, managing 14 doctoral programs and 19 masters programs for more than 1000 students. His career has also focused heavily on diversity and inclusion. He served as a Director of Diversity Leadership Programs with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminar, an organization that provided internship opportunities for college students in the Washington, D.C. area.

According to a recent Q&A conducted by senior and Guilfordian Editor-in-Chief Jenni Camhi, Farmbry shared that he was drawn to Guilford because of its Quaker roots. He expressed his desire to rebuild the College community by implementing financial strategies, increasing student engagement and creating connections between students, faculty and the greater Greensboro area.

Farmbry’s emphasis on community and financial strategy is a welcome change after the financial problems exacerbated by the pandemic threatened the life of the College we love.

When the College’s president of six years, Jane Fernandes, resigned in June of 2020, the College appointed Carol Moore, who had previously worked at Northeastern University, to fill her position until a permanent president was hired. In her brief time as president, Moore faced significant criticism from students and faculty for her decision to enact a process of program prioritization in response to the College’s financial crisis. This process would eliminate nearly half of the college’s majors and fire 23 professors. 

Many of us at Guilford were deeply concerned about this process, not only because it would result in the loss of some of our favorite professors and our academic majors, but because it seemed to overlook the Quaker values upon which the school was founded.

After significant protests from students and faculty and closer consideration by the Board of Trustees, program prioritization was canceled, but the Guilford community was shaken. Many students felt that Guilford’s leaders had not been honest or transparent with them about the changes that were set to occur during Moore’s presidency. 

Under the leadership of Jim Hood, who stepped in as interim president in early 2021, the campus began to slowly return to the Quaker values that many felt had been lost in the turmoil of 2020. Hood, a Guilford alum, professor and active member in the community, has expressed his faith in our school and its students, and has helped to embody the Quaker spirit and ease the transition for the College’s next leader.

As Farmbry transitions into the role of president, we at the Guilfordian hope for a sense of stability in leadership after the chaos of the past year. We hope for a leader who will listen to the voices of the Guilford community with compassion and respect, and who can guide us through future difficulties with a clear head and a sense of transparency. With Farmbry’s experience, passion for community and understanding of the College’s Quaker roots, he seems to be a promising leader for Guilford in years to come.