Campbell University held its faculty orientation August 15, and change was in the air. The new School of Osteopathic Medicine has opened, for one thing, to much fanfare. The afternoon session was held in one of the two high-tech 200-seat classrooms in the new facility, and it was nice indeed.

Provost Dwaine Greene addresses Campbell University faculty members in a large classroom in the new medical school.The afternoon included a tour of the med school, including a visit to mock operating rooms and ICU units complete with robotic patients that breathe and mimic human symptoms, and can be programmed for various crisis events. We also made a brief stop by the anatomy lab where students were getting acquainted with the cadavers they’ll be dissecting. On the previous day, we were told, students and faculty held a memorial/gratitude service to honor the people’s willingness to donate their bodies to science.

Orientation began with an emotional show of faculty appreciation to provost and vice-president for Academic Affairs Dwaine Greene, who will become the new president of Kentucky’s Georgetown College in October. Greene has served in that role since 2001.

Mark Hammond, a biology professor since 1996 and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2001, was introduced as the new provost, and chemistry department chair Mike Wells was named as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Some of the more surprising information came from Britt Davis, vice-president for institutional advancement, which currently includes the admissions area. Davis reported that student GPAs, ACT scores, and SAT scores for incoming freshmen were steadily climbing, and above the national average. About 850 freshmen are expected on campus, he said, along with about 200 new transfer students.

In reviewing statistical information about incoming students, he noted that 51 percent had indicated that they are Christian on student information forms. Of those, about 23 percent are Baptist (if I remember correctly), while Methodists and Catholics were about five percent each and 15 percent indicated “other.” Not everyone chose to answer the question, however.

Even fewer students volunteered information (which apparently was not required) about race: only 40 percent of students indicated whether they consider themselves to be white, African-American, Latino, or whatever. I found that particularly interesting: is this a millennial characteristic, a wish to be blind to race or ethnic background?

Perhaps it was required, but one question everyone answered had to do with gender: 54 percent of the incoming students are female, if I remember correctly, and 46 percent are male (it might be 56/44: I didn’t write it down). In either case, the odds are good for freshman guys — if they can break away from their studies, of course.

President Jerry Wallace addresses Campbell University faculty and staff in D. Rich auditorium.In the most sobering comments of the day, school president Jerry Wallace noted that a rising number of prognosticators have been sounding the death knell of liberal arts education as too expensive and not relevant in the current environment. Like other liberal arts colleges, Campbell has seen a decline in enrollment, and many of the entering freshment hope to move on to the law, pharmacy, or medical schools.

Wallace cited an early brochure for Buies Creek Academy, a boarding school for children that eventually grew into Campbell University. 

Buies Creek Academy claimed to be “As good as any, and better than most.”

“As good as any” won’t cut it in today’s world, Wallace said, as he implored the faculty and staff to seek excellence in every area, demonstrating the value of the liberal arts in general and Campbell’s offerings in particular.

Not a bad thought for the day — whatever we do, in our work and our lives, are we satisfied to be “as good as any,” or do we strive to be better?

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