The Right Gifts
President S. Georgia Nugent brings Kenyon impressive talents -- as a teacher, linguist, listener, collaborator, consensus-builder, creative thinker, and decision-maker
One of Princeton University's great teachers, Charles Beitz of the politics department, is leading a lunch-time seminar in Princeton's Harold W. McGraw Jr. Center for Teaching and Learning. Because teaching outside the realm of the research university is his topic--Beitz is a former faculty member at Swarthmore and dean at Bowdoin--he asks how many of the assembled graduate students are alumni of small liberal-arts colleges. About a quarter of the hands go up, and then the host, Georgia Nugent, volunteers that she's the president-elect of Kenyon College.
Beitz puts on a doleful face and offers his condolences. He then notes that A. Bartlett Giamatti, president of Yale University from 1978 to 1986 before going on to be commissioner of Major League Baseball, once said that being a college president was "not fit work for a grownup."
Georgia Nugent is about to find out if he was right.
These days, the Princeton campus is a mass of construction and renovation sites. On a rainy day in April, there is mud everywhere. Witherspoon Hall, a grand Victorian pile of a dormitory, is boarded up as it undergoes a thorough renovation, just as several other historic residence halls have in recent years, and venerable East Pyne Hall, home of the language departments, is inaccessible to all but the armies of workers refitting it for a new century. In addition to more of the university's signature Robert Venturi buildings, there's the new Carl Icahn Laboratory, designed by Rafael Vinoly, and on the drawing boards there's that sine qua non of the well-outfitted twenty-first-century campus, a building by Frank Gehry. New residence halls by leading architects are also being erected, to accommodate the university's recently announced expansion of its student body by five hundred over the next several years. Even for someone unfamiliar with Princeton's history, the conclusion would be clear: this is a very rich institution.
Although it might not be revealed in a comparison of the institutions' campuses--Kenyon, after all, has its own impressive catalog of new and renovated buildings by outstanding architects--the financial resources of the university and the College contrast starkly, even given the differences between the needs of a research university and those of a small liberal-arts institution. Much of the current work on Princeton's campus is the result of the university's Anniversary Campaign, which sought to raise $750 million by 2000. In the end, the five-year campaign brought in $1.14 billion, including $154 million in annual-giving funds. Princeton's endowment stood at $8.3 billion as of June 30, 2002, making it the fourth largest in American higher education, behind only Harvard, Yale, and the University of Texas System.
At Kenyon, Nugent will have to think in terms of millions, not billions. The College's most recent--and remarkably ambitious--campaign had a goal of $100 million, which it exceeded by more than $16 million. One of Nugent's challenges will be to help Kenyon continue to build an endowment that, at about $120 million, remains disproportionately small for one of the nation's leading liberal-arts colleges. But if the new president will have to adjust to a different scale with regard to resources, her role at Princeton--leading a center that focuses on teaching and learning--suggests that in terms of core educational values, the gap between the university and the College is not so great after all.
Georgia Nugent's office is in Princeton's mammoth new Frist Campus Center, the three-year-old Venturi-designed building where the McGraw Center has its quarters on the third floor, just off a light-filled and generously proportioned reading room. Nugent's high-ceilinged office looks into the airwell and across to the Collegiate Gothic windows and walls of the old Palmer Physics Laboratory (which has been incorporated into the Frist Center) on the other side. Her bookcases are filled with an eclectic mixture of volumes, from the expected classical texts to John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University to the collected poems of Wallace Stevens. A large, eye-catching poster on one wall, advertising a theatrical production and illustrated with an abstract drawing of a fencer in mid thrust, is a memento of a happy time in Rome. "There were copies of it plastered everywhere that summer," Nugent recalls. "I loved the design of the poster, so one of my friends took this one down and presented it to me."The McGraw Center was established in 1998 with a $5-million gift from Harold W. McGraw Jr., a 1940 alumnus of Princeton who is the retired chairman and former president and chief executive officer of publishing giant McGraw-Hill. Nugent says the center was the brainchild of a now-retired associate dean at the university, Eva R. Gossman, the mother of Kenyon alumna Janice N. Gossman '89.
"My objective in taking the deanship at the McGraw Center was to make a go of it, and to position it within the community," Nugent says. "The center had already had a couple of false starts; it needed to be successfully integrated into the Princeton culture. We began by looking for ways to make connections with faculty members, to show them we had valuable services to offer."
Nugent, who says she loves brainstorming with her staff, recalls that one of the best notions to arise from the search was a graduate mentoring award. "The nominations for the award gave us a good idea of which faculty members were the best teachers," she says, noting that the McGraw staff could then recruit those faculty members to offer programs at the center. "We've given four of the awards so far, as part of a hooding ceremony for new Ph.D. recipients that we created. One of the things I like most about presenting the awards is that it enables the faculty members to celebrate graduate mentoring, the opportunity for which is one of the reasons many of them came to teach at the university.
"We're building a cadre of distinguished faculty members who know and value the McGraw Center," says Nugent. "We want the McGraw name to be affiliated with the idea of good teaching at Princeton."
To that end, and recognizing full well the value of a record of successful teaching on a curriculum vitae, she has also worked to find more opportunities for graduate students to gain classroom experience, both at the university and in local elementary and secondary schools through the "Scholars in the Schools" program. "We've created a 'teaching transcript' for graduate students, which lists their practical experience and attendance at seminars and includes written material on their approaches to pedagogy," Nugent notes. "Documentation of interest in teaching can be very attractive to prospective employers."
Nugent was born in New Orleans, Louisiana--where, she points out, drawing from her new store of Kenyon trivia, Philander Chase was in residence from 1806 to 1811--but she has few memories of the city. "My dad trained horses, so we followed the racing season, so we were only there for part of the year," she recalls. "When I was five or six, we moved to Miami and made that our base."
The Nugent family's peregrinations took them to a number of cities, including Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, where they lived in all sorts of neighborhoods. In Detroit, the Nugents lived in a downtown hotel before decamping for suburban Birmingham. In Louisville, Kentucky, home of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, they lived in a neighborhood with a majority-black elementary school where, Nugent remembers, a teacher went out of her way to make her feel welcome and keep her on track for her grade.
As a result of the family's travels, Nugent had the opportunity to experience a diversity of schools during her childhood. "I would go to a school in the North until Thanksgiving, and then we would head south," she says. "It was a very interesting way to grow up."
Nugent recalls two teachers with special fondness, Mrs. Small and Mr. Enriquez. "I had Mrs. Small in fifth grade, and from her I learned the lesson that I wouldn't get an A just for doing an assignment, that I had to go above and beyond what was expected," she says. "Mr. Enriquez, my ninth-grade Spanish teacher, was a Cuban exile, very charismatic, and I can trace the beginning of my love of languages to his class."
Nugent spent most of her high-school career in Florida, at what she characterizes as a "large, terrible public high school." To illustrate her lack of knowledge of classics at that point in her life, she tells of twin classmates, named Virgil and Horace. "I remember thinking, 'What funny names,'" she laughs.
Throughout her childhood, and up through her college and graduate-school years, Nugent was known by her first name, Susan. She says she never liked the sing-song quality of "Susie Nugent," so she started using her middle name when she began teaching. "It was also a way to honor my father, whose name was George." While she's known to most of her colleagues as Georgia these days, her husband, Thomas Scherer, and some of her closer friends call her Nuge.
Nugent says she was a bookish child, and she remembers being urged to put down her reading and go outside and play. "I read all the childhood standards, like Little Women, and I went through a period when I devoured mysteries, especially the Hardy Boys." The reading habit stuck, and Nugent now reads a book a night, mostly nonfiction. "Unfortunately, I almost never find time to read a novel."
Classics entered her life in her freshman year at Princeton, when she enrolled in a Great Books style course. "I went to the U-Store and bought Wheelock's Latin," Nugent recalls. "It was a beautiful, sunny day, so I sat down on the stone wall outside the store and started reading. I was so excited."
Nugent admits she knew very little about Princeton before she applied, at the suggestion of a friend, to be a member of the university's first coeducational class. "I didn't even know where it was," she says. "I thought it was in New England somewhere."
She says her mother had set her sights on the nearby University of Miami for her daughter, so Nugent kept her Princeton application a secret. When she was admitted, it wasn't at all clear that she would be able to accept, but the university made a generous offer of aid. "I was on total scholarship at Princeton," she says. "I never would have been there otherwise."
Despite coming from a less-privileged background than many of her fellow students, Nugent says she rarely felt out of place. "There's an interesting class fluidity in the racing world, despite the vast wealth of many of the horse owners," she says. "Although you're clearly in a servant sort of position, like the yacht captain, you're expected to behave like a social equal in certain situations." As an only child, she often accompanied her parents to racing-circuit events where she was expected to comport herself like a grownup. "My mother used to say I was an 'only adult,'" Nugent laughs.
Before joining one of Princeton's "eating clubs," which serve some of the same purposes as fraternities and sororities on other campuses, Nugent joined the Madison Society. Unlike the clubs, the Madison Society had no facilities of its own, although its members enjoyed one outstanding perk: they took their evening meals in New South, a university administration building by day, where the top-floor dining room offered spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. As a junior, Nugent became a member of Tower Club, one of the first of the eating clubs to admit women.
Through the Madison Society, Nugent met Soviet-studies major John Adams, and the two took several courses together, on topics ranging from Dante to medieval art. Now a lawyer at the firm of Schiff Hardin & Waite in Chicago, Illinois, he still thinks of Nugent as one of his closest friends, and she returns the compliment.
"Georgia then was pretty much like Georgia now, except that her hair was longer," says Adams, who graduated from Princeton in 1972 and went on to further study at Oxford University before entering law school at the University of Chicago. "She was cheerful and friendly, with a winning smile and a ready enthusiasm for everything Princeton. She had many friends.
"There was a sizable percentage of students at Princeton who took life easy, a smaller percentage who were the 'wonks' who never went out, and another sizable percentage who were serious students and who took the necessary time to do well academically but who still had a social life," says Adams. "Georgia was clearly in that last group. She went to parties and had a good time, but she was focused on her work in classics.
"I remember most of our most interesting conversations were about what courses to sign up for, not because we were coordinating our schedules but because we never wanted to waste a course. We were always comparing notes on what we'd heard and looking for the courses--in art, culture, history, languages--in which we thought the guidance of a superb teacher would make a difference for us."
By the time Nugent married Tom Scherer, both her parents were deceased. It was John Adams who walked her down the aisle at her wedding, at which Mrs. Adams was matron-of-honor and the Adams children were flower- and ring-bearers. Adams laments that the two families' busy schedules make visits a too-rare occasion these days, but he says they do keep in touch by telephone.
"When Georgia was offered the Kenyon presidency," Adams recalls, "Tom called and said, 'She got it!' There was no question as to what 'it' was; we were all pulling for her, and we were all delighted. This is a well-deserved appointment for Georgia, based on her experience and her skills and talents, and I think Kenyon will be a superb fit."
Nugent's heroes at Princeton were her teachers, among them the distinguished scholar and translator Robert Hollander, a professor of French and Italian. Another "strong influence" toward her future career was the man who was then president of the university, Robert F. Goheen, himself a classicist. "I had enormous respect for Bob Goheen," says Nugent of the man who would become U.S. ambassador to India, where he was born as the son of missionaries, after his sixteen years as Princeton's chief executive.
In her senior year at Princeton, when she decided she wanted to go to graduate school, Nugent realized there was an awkward lacuna in her transcript: she had no Greek. "I knew I wouldn't get into graduate school, but I applied anyway," she says. To her surprise, Bryn Mawr College was willing to accept her, provided she spent a year studying Greek, and so was Cornell University. She chose Cornell.
"Fred Ahl, who was head of the graduate program and ended up being my dissertation adviser, was willing to take chances, and he put together a real oddball class that year," says Nugent, who remembers simultaneously taking beginning Greek with undergraduates and a seminar in Greek lyric poetry in the graduate school. "Of the six of us who entered, I was the only one to finish."
Today, Nugent speaks several languages, although she says she's not as fluent as she would like in any of them. Admitting that learning languages comes naturally to her, she mentions that she picked up German while Scherer was stationed in Germany and Cantonese when he was working in Hong Kong. "I think I have a pretty good feel for accents, and I'm a pretty good mimic," she says. "I really believe that if you're going to learn to use a language like a native, you can't be afraid to make a fool of yourself."
After serving as a teaching associate during her final three hears at Cornell, Nugent began her professional career in academe in 1978 at Swarthmore College, where she was an instructor for a year before returning to her alma mater as an assistant professor. At Princeton, she was greeted with suitable fanfare as the university's first alumna to join the faculty. Six years later, Nugent moved on to Brown University, where she won tenure, the rank of associate professor, and the university's Wriston Award for Excellence in Teaching.
"I always knew I wanted to be a teacher," says Nugent. "In elementary school, I wanted to be an elementary-school teacher; in high school, I wanted to be a high-school teacher; in college, I decided I wanted to be a university professor."
She says she finds real satisfaction in conveying to others her excitement about the classics. "There's a great debate in pedagogy now about teacher-centered versus student-centered learning," Nugent observes, noting that the former relies on lectures while the latter emphasizes experience. "I know that some people think you can learn only by doing, but I also know that I learned a lot from some great lecturers during my own college years. My own courses are definitely lecture-based; I love the performative aspects of teaching, and I love seeing the light go on when a student 'gets it.'
"I think it's important to be on the lookout for new ways to introduce the classics, always and everywhere. Consequently, I'm always going to new productions of classical comedies and dramas and getting new ideas. I don't own a television, so I haven't seen the new Helen of Troy, but I guess I'll have to sometime soon," she laughs.
Although it's clear that teaching is a defining--and indispensable--part of her life, Nugent notes without apology that she has long understood the appeal of the administrative side of higher education. "One of the things I like about administration is that there's no typical day," she says. "As much as I love teaching, I must admit it takes on a sameness after a while. In administration, there's always variety, always something new crossing your desk."
So how did someone who was so focused on a career in teaching first become interested in administration? As Nugent tells it, the attraction grew naturally out of the service expectations placed on junior faculty members, although the results weren't all happy ones.
When she returned to Princeton as an assistant professor, Nugent was asked to serve on numerous committees, in part because she was the first alumna of the university to join the faculty. "I liked committee work," she says, "but the amount of time I spent on it was bad for someone who didn't have tenure. I found working with the administration fascinating and rewarding. We were defining the university."
The downside became all too apparent when Nugent failed to receive a tenure bid at Princeton, a result of her inability to find sufficient time to devote to her scholarship--and to produce a book. When she was hired by Brown, she was determined not to make the same mistake there. "At Brown, it was all publication and teaching," Nugent says, and it paid off: she was awarded tenure in 1992.
She found she missed the rough and tumble of committee work, though. "I believe there's a need and an obligation for the faculty to participate in administration," Nugent says. "I rather like the old model, the sort of revolving door in which the chair of the French department became the dean but eventually went back to teaching French. In that vein, I like the Kenyon idea of faculty members spending three years as associate provosts. I know there's legitimate concern about taking time away from teaching and research, but I believe it's possible to strike a balance that works."
The opportunity to get involved in administration again, and to return to her alma mater, presented itself in 1995 when Robert K. Durkee, Princeton's vice president for public affairs, called Nugent to ask her if she would be willing to talk to the university's then-president, Harold Shapiro, about taking on the role of his assistant. "At first I thought, "That's ridiculous,'" she says. "Then I thought, 'What the heck,' and I met Harold Shapiro and liked him. I said I would take the job, with a view to becoming a president myself.
"I had some ambivalence about being a president after seeing the job up close," she says, noting the constant and sometimes conflicting demands on a president's time. "But my ambivalence didn't last long. I always remember the title of a Yeats poem, 'The Fascination of What's Difficult.' I suppose I'm still a little concerned about the idea of a seven-thirty breakfast gathering, followed by meetings every half hour until early evening, when it's time for a donors' dinner before dropping in at the basketball game, the lecture, the theater production. As an only child, I need to find time to be alone. I can be very gregarious, and genuinely so, but I also need time away from other people, for recharging."
Nugent, who offered a course each year when she was working in Princeton's president's office and who still accepts invitations to lecture as often as possible, sees definite links between teaching and administration. "We're all teaching in some way, all the time," she says. "Whatever we're doing, it's important to think about--and talk about--why we're doing it. That's the way we come to an understanding of a project by all involved.
"When people are asked about their management style these days, they all say it's collaborative," Nugent goes on. "I see everyone on my staff, all my fellow workers, as colleagues, and I ask them to do the same with each other. When we need to resolve something, everyone contributes, but the final decision is mine. I try to give away the credit and take the blame. In my experience, a top-down approach to management doesn't work, and neither does management by committee. Collegiality in a staff takes time to develop, but it's essential."
In the twenty-first century, much of what any president's job entails beyond the campus is related to fundraising. And while Nugent's experience in that area is not broad--it has been focused on relations with corporate and foundation donors, for the most part, rather than individuals--she clearly relishes the opportunity to make a difference for Kenyon as a fundraiser.
"I'm taken with Rob Oden's view that fundraising is not so much about asking for money as it is about showing your enthusiasm and connecting with the enthusiasm of the individual donor," Nugent says. "I think the best fundraising happens when we bring people back to why they cared about the institution in the first place. Then we articulate the need, convey it as compellingly as possible, and build their interest in it."
Nugent knows that the travel required for effective fundraising can be taxing, on both the president and the community. "Personally, I'm not too concerned about the travel, which Tom and I still love even after commuting half way around the world," she says. "And I take my commitment to being a part of the College community very seriously."
The character of the Kenyon community was evident from her first meeting with the Presidential Search Committee, says Nugent. "We had a wonderful conversation, frank, open, and friendly," she recalls, "and that experience colored our subsequent meetings. When I visited campus, I had a similar feeling, particularly in my meeting with the department chairs. We seemed to have a genuine meeting of the minds."
After a January meeting in Columbus with the search committee, Nugent decided to treat herself to lunch--and a drive to Gambier, even though the College was not in session. "The roads were clear, but then snow began to fall, and I do not drive in the snow," she laughs. "But I decided to press on, only to be caught in a white-out. I finally arrived around four o'clock, by which time the snow had stopped, and the village was gorgeous in its pristine coat of snow. Architecture matters quite a bit to me, and I found the campus charming. I looked around and thought of Bishop Chase's declaration that 'This will do.'"
When Nugent was asked in a discussion during her official visit to campus about what she does to relax, her answer was simple: "I don't." She went on to talk about "flow," a concept espoused by University of Chicago psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The professor posits that "flow," a pleasurable state of mind and body that he describes as feeling like being carried away by a current, "usually happens not during relaxing moments of leisure and entertainment, but rather when we are actively involved in a difficult enterprise, in a task that stretches our mental and physical abilities."
Certainly, the hectic pace of Nugent's life, inside and outside the office, would seem to offer ample opportunities for enjoying "flow." She has taken up one almost wholly non-cerebral activity, though, to test herself physically: running.
"I participated in no sports at all until after my thirtieth birthday," Nugent laughs. "I thought I'd better start doing some sort of exercise, so I tried several things, but I've stuck with running. I like the simplicity of running." She says she always takes the same route, running from her home near the Graduate College, through Princeton's leafy west-side residential areas bordered by the Springdale Golf Course and the Princeton Battlefield State Park, to the grounds of the Institute for Advanced Study.
"I know some people say they do, but I don't have any great thoughts while I'm running," Nugent says. "Instead, it's a mind-freeing time for me, a time to be totally aware of my surroundings. It's something I like to do when I travel, too, so I wish someone would invent a running shoe that would fold down for packing!"
Popular culture, at least of the cinematic variety, holds little allure for Nugent. "I don't want to be assaulted by movies, and that seems to be what so many are about," she says, admitting that her husband prescreens films for her and takes her most often to children's movies. Although she says she doesn't remember it quite this way, she says Scherer insists that while watching Toy Story at a movie theater, she--and she alone--screamed out, "Oh, no!" when the toy hero was in danger of being crushed. She says she does enjoy older movies though, and she singles out Casablanca as a favorite, "for its stylization."
The word you hear about Georgia Nugent, over and over, from the people who know her best is "gifted."
As vice president for public affairs at Princeton, Robert K. Durkee has worked with Nugent in her roles as assistant to the president, associate provost, and dean of the McGraw Center. An unabashed fan, he says Nugent will be "absolutely terrific" as the College's president. And he lets it be known that when Kenyon came calling, it was not the first time a college had looked seriously at Nugent as a potential chief executive.
"In Georgia, the College will be getting someone with the right range of experience, and the right personality, to be a great president," he says. "The work that she's done in the last couple of years at the McGraw Center will definitely redound to Kenyon's benefit."
Durkee, a Princeton alumnus who has been an administrator at the university for more than thirty years, has been able to observe Nugent in a variety of roles. "I've been struck, more than once, by how many things she does well," he says. "She's a gifted teacher, a skilled lecturer and mentor, a remarkable citizen of the university. As an example of her administrative abilities, when Georgia was given the task of coordinating a review of all our alumni programs, she brought together people with very different experiences and points of view and managed to come to something better than consensus. The ideas the group was able to present were better than those with which anyone came into the review process. Georgia listens, and she gets people to listen to each other."
Noting that of the Ivy League institutions Princeton comes closest to resembling a small liberal-arts college, Durkee says he believes a place like Kenyon is just right for Nugent. "That's where her heart is," he says, "in the liberal arts. Learning and teaching are what animate her."
Asked to name Nugent's greatest asset in a single word, he offers three: creativity, resourcefulness, and spontaneity. "Georgia thinks freshly about new and old issues alike--an interesting characteristic for a classicist," he laughs.
Linda Hodges, the associate director of the McGraw Center, was a chemistry professor for twenty years, first at Kennesaw College (now Kennesaw State University) and then at Agnes Scott College. She says she discovered an interest in faculty development during her time as a Carnegie Scholar in 1999, after which she came to Princeton to take her position at the McGraw Center.
"Georgia is a great decision-maker, but that's too little to say," offers Hodges, who has worked with Nugent since October 2001. "She has a gift for collaboration, for encouraging input from others and letting them know the value of that input. Then, she's able to synthesize all that input, which is a rare talent. With Georgia, there's a balance between seeing the benefits of a process orientation and knowing the necessity of making a decision and standing by it."
"I think it's safe to say that we're all sorry to lose her, but we're celebrating with her anyway."
Nugent calls Joann Mitchell, Princeton's vice provost for administration, one of her closest friends. The two met shortly after Mitchell arrived at the university in 1993, when they served on a committee that created Princeton's Fairness Review Process.
Mitchell, who jokingly refers to herself as a "recovering lawyer," is an undergraduate alumna of a small liberal-arts institution, Davidson College. After leaving the practice of law, she worked as an administrator at the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University before coming to Princeton.
"I was absolutely delighted for Georgia when I got the news," says Mitchell, who found out that Nugent had accepted the presidency by checking the web site after she and Nugent missed making connections by telephone. "Kenyon is the perfect institution for her, and it's the perfect time in her career. Her skills, her interests, and her aspirations have all led her to this.
"I think Georgia will spread her wings at Kenyon, with the opportunity to lead more fully," Mitchell adds. "She's had great preparation through her work with Harold Shapiro and Shirley Tilghman."
Mitchell says she values Nugent as a friend for her sense of humor--"she's always the first to laugh at herself"--and for her unfailing honesty and integrity. "Georgia is the one person I know who will always tell me the truth, whether it's good or bad. And if it's bad, there's no sugar-coating, but there's never any hurtfulness, either."
When asked if there's one thing she'd like the Kenyon community to know about her friend, Mitchell responds without hesitation. "She's a great listener. Georgia has the capacity to take in great amount of information on an issue. She studies it from a variety of viewpoints to get to the heart of the matter. And then she makes a decision she knows she'll be able to defend."
"When I look back on my first year at Kenyon, I hope I'll see that everyone feels engaged in a common effort that we all feel good about," Nugent says. "I also hope I'll be able to say that the College and I are still on our honeymoon!"
Changes in policies don't head the "to-do" list for her first year. "Making sure that my goals are community goals is a prerequisite for effective leadership," she notes. To that end, Nugent already has plans for working with some of her key constituencies at Kenyon. With the faculty, she will address issues of governance: "Faculty members need to have a role in governance without being burdened by it." With all the College's employees, she will consider some of the timeless topics that demand every chief executive's attention. "Salaries will be a concern across the board," she notes, "along with affordable health-care coverage."
With the student body, she will make every effort to be accessible and to be open to new ideas, whether they're brought up by Campus Senate or an individual. "I'll probably have regular office hours for students," Nugent says, "and I've been thinking about gathering groups for breakfast at Cromwell House. I might also offer a minicourse or two."
She has ideas for the rest of the community, too. "I want to empower people who aren't necessarily faculty members to see that they can be teachers," Nugent notes. "I'd like to create a sort of registry of talents people have that they'd be willing to share, whether it's speaking Czech or cooking Thai or whatever."
And then there are the alumni and parents who constitute one of the College's most important reservoirs of support.
"Something I'd like to do at Kenyon would be annual lectures for alumni and parents, a talk that could be sent out to them on a CD," she says. "It's getting so much easier to do things like digitizing lectures that we could also make them available online."
Nugent notes that she has often been an "institutional representative" for Princeton at alumni and parent gatherings. "I've moved away from being a human newsletter," she says. "Now I offer more academic content--on etymology, for example. 'Learning in the Company of Friends' is a good fit with my ideas of what a college should be offering alumni and parents. I'd also like to bring them to campus for similar sorts of programs."
As Nugent talks about Kenyon, her desire to get down to work at the College is almost palpable. "I think it's absolutely essential that we continue to focus on admissions," she says. "I have confidence that Kenyon's gains in the level of student interest will continue and that we will be able to increase selectivity. We need to sustain the quality of the student body and the faculty."
And how does she feel about moving from a resource-rich institution like Princeton to one with less than a tenth of its endowment? "The College has always had resource issues, relative to its peers; the remarkable thing is that it has always overcome them," Nugent says. "The constraint can seem great, but Kenyon can feel good about what it offers to its students, its faculty members, its community. The wonderful thing for a new president is that nothing really needs to be fixed; everything works so well. That means we can afford to attend to making the College even better, and better known."
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