In this first part of a series of interviews, Campbell President Jerry Wallace talks about why he’ll step down as president in June and the priorities for the year ahead.
Campbell University President Jerry M. Wallace announced last April that he will step down from the presidency on June 30, 2015, after serving in the role for 12 years and after working at Campbell for 45 years. Over the course of the academic year, Campbell.edu will post a series of interviews with President Wallace, as well as other content, to commemorate his service to the university.
Here’s what to expect throughout the series:
- Part 1: On finishing well
- Part 2: On his childhood and college experience
- Part 3: On being a preacher and teacher
- Part 4: On the move to academia leadership
- Part 5: On his time as president
- Part 6: On saying good-bye
- Dr. Wallace on his family — and his family on him
In the first part posted below, President Wallace talks about what he hopes to accomplish during his final year as president.
Part 1: On finishing well
Why is June 2015 the right time for you to step down as president?
No. 1 is my age. The Lord willing, when I leave the presidency in June, I will be 80 years old. When a person is 80 years old, it’s time for less responsibility and more leisure. That’s number 1. Number 2 is that there are some things I personally want to do with the hope the Lord will give me more bonus years to enjoy. But more than all of that, the university is at a stage where it needs new and enthusiastic leadership.
I’m very grateful to have been given the privilege to serve as the president of Campbell. When I became president it was a unique time for the university. My predecessor, Dr. Norman A. Wiggins, was sick and unable to continue serving as president. I was chosen because of my experience as provost and long service to the university. It’s very unlikely the university will select a 68-year-old person to become president again. But I hope we will look back on my years as president and say it was right for the university. It certainly has been right for me.
What was that last first day of the new academic year like for you?
Satisfaction, along with deep appreciation and gratitude for all the first days I have enjoyed over the last 45 years. Beginning a new school year always brought energy to me. Seeing students return and new students beginning their college years is very special. I must also say I felt bit of relief, because I knew after this year, I can watch the new year begin and feel less responsible!
What’s your mindset during your final year as president?
The mindset is to finish well, and that’s the top priority. But there’s a little sadness, too, knowing you are doing things for the last time as president. I also want to work with my colleagues to prepare for the transition to the next president.
What has to happen this year so you can look back and say you finished well?
Finishing well would be continuing to launch and prepare for new programs that will have a positive impact on the university, such as the beginning of a School of Engineering and the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.
Finishing well would be continuing improvements to residence halls, breaking ground for the new Health Science Building, and enhancing the landscape along perimeter edges of campus. Above all else, complete Main Street and get out of the mud and dust!
Finishing well would be achieving another record year of enrollment in all programs.
More than all of that, finishing well would be to have a transition year where a new president can be selected who will lead the university to continued growth and meet the needs of the state and the world. There’s a lot of finishing well to do.
What’s keeping you motivated to finish well this final year?
Hopefully, to know I have done my best for the university and that I have kept faith with Campbell’s 128-year-old purpose to educate students to become “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”
Interview conducted by and edited by Cherry Crayton, Digital Content Coordinator
Share your memories, thanks
Here’s how you can say thanks:
- Post a message (and any photos with him) on your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram accounts, and tag #ThanksDrWallace.
- Post a comment in the comments section below.
- Mail a note to Campbell Magazine, P.O. Box 567, Buies Creek, NC 27506.