Six years ago, I was heading to my new job at Randolph in the College van after being picked up at the airport in Richmond late at night. As we traveled in the dark on Interstate 64, the vehicle broke down. We ultimately made it to campus with the van hoisted on a flat-bed tow truck. It was not the best start to my presidency, but, as I look back now, it seems a bit symbolic. There we were in the dark, unsure of how we would get to our destination, but fully confident that we would indeed get there.
Today, as I prepare to leave Randolph, I am proud of the significant progress we have made on every front, including admissions and retention, alumnae and alumni engagement and giving, communications and marketing, planning, expense control, a culture of continuous improvement, improvements in our academic program, creation of a strong athletic program, and the development of a senior staff “dream team.” We have made transformative improvements to our campus facilities without impacting the College’s finances. And our campus is filled with laughter, energy, and that unquenchable quest for knowledge that our R-MWC alumnae remember so well.
The journey through our coeducation transition was not smooth or easy. Randolph faced great obstacles and challenges, including a warning from our accrediting body, tension on campus, an angry and hurt alumnae base, ongoing lawsuits, a name change, and not least, the global economic meltdown.
The feeling was, at times, much like that long journey riding in the cab of the flat-bed truck to Randolph. With so many challenges all at once, there were moments when it felt as if we were navigating in the dark, unsure of how or when we would get to our destination. But as on that night six years ago, there was never a doubt in my mind that we would get where we were going.
And we did. The College has successfully completed its transition to coeducation, and, thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, a strong foundation is now in place, built upon the rich history of R-MWC.
Like the thousands of students, faculty, and staff who have spent time behind the Red Brick Wall, the College is now part of Susan’s and my DNA, and it will forever be in our hearts. As we make our new home in Washington, D.C., we will always be thankful that we had the opportunity to be a part of this great institution’s history. We will be cheering you on from the sidelines!
John E. Klein