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Cornwell resigns as College president

Meg Itoh

Staff Writer

President Grant Cornwell will vacate his position on June 30, having accepted a new position as president of Rollins College in Florida. According to an email from Board of Trustees Chair Bill Longbrake sent shortly after disclosure of his resignation, the decision came as a surprise to the Board.

Cornwell cited the potential he saw in Rollins College as the primary reason for his departure.

“I would not leave Wooster for another college just like it because I truly believe that Wooster is the best of its kind,” he stated. “Rollins is a very different kind of university, serving different student populations and in a geographical location with different assets.”

Cornwell served as president of the College for eight years. He said of what he had achieved while at the College, “That is for others to say.”

“I have tried to … help Wooster realize the potential of its powerful and distinctive mission,” he continued. “I hope that I have honored the integrity of its core mission and left it in a stronger position, and more strategically focused, than when I arrived.”

Despite this, Charles Kammer, chair of the religious studies department and a frequent advocate for change at the College, identified three main campus issues that must still be addressed.

“The College lacks a clear sense of community,” said Kammer. “Students, staff, hourly workers and faculty have few places to come together and interact. … We all need more interaction so that we might fully appreciate what each person does to make this College function.”

He mentioned how the recent sustainable budget process showcased the lack of community, claiming that groups were not given the opportunity to interact with each other and have input in the process.

“An institution that exploits some workers for the benefit of the most privileged does not model either social responsibility or global citizenship,” stated Kammer, further highlighting income inequality as another glaring problem on campus.

“The highest levels of the administration and faculty have very generous, if not outlandish in some cases, salaries,” he continued. “Our low wage workers often fall below the poverty line with some of them needing access to meals programs and food pantries.”

Kammer listed the heavy workload around campus as his third category for improvement.

“The lifestyle we have generated is not healthy and is not teaching the values we should be teaching in a liberal arts institution,” he declared. “We need a president who will focus on reducing the stress levels and workloads of everyone on campus, including students.”

Cornwell noted that diversity and inclusion need improvement. “We are part of larger society and so we find in our campus community all of the issues with regard to diversity and inclusion, issues of racial and sexual respect, that one finds throughout our society,” he said. “But as a campus we should aspire to higher ideals. We should seek to model kinds and qualities of human relationships that are more respectful and just.”

Details regarding the selection process for the College’s next president have not been released. However, Cornwell is optimistic of future leadership. “Wooster is in a very strong position and we are highly esteemed throughout higher education. I am sure Wooster’s next president will continue and advance the momentum we have built.”

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