During her first day on campus, while interviewing for the job of president of Emory & Henry, Rosalind Reichard met with a group of students, whom she claims helped her fall in love with the institution almost immediately.
“There was magic about that moment,” Reichard recalls. “Those students, several of whom would be graduating soon, demonstrated an intense love of this place that was selfless. I knew then that this was the place I wanted to be.”
Later, in August 2006, on her first day as president, Reichard toured sites and communities where E&H students were engaged in service. As a person who had long been devoted to service, largely through efforts to engage young women in fields of math and science, she was overwhelmed by the passion and joy that E&H students and employees brought to the work of helping others.
As a highly experienced college educator and administrator, Reichard knew she was witnessing something rare in higher education – an academic experience that helps transform students who are passionate about transforming communities. She realized then that Emory & Henry’s commitment to service could be a national model for service learning that would greatly enhance the school’s reputation.
For an administration dedicated to building foundations – very often in a literal sense – Reichard’s effort toward creating a base for reputational growth began with an emphasis on service, but the notion of building a stronger foundation for the institution extended into virtually every aspect of the College. As a result, Emory & Henry enjoyed great success in many areas during Reichard’s presidency and is now poised for significant growth in academic programs, fund raising, student recruitment and student life.
Reichard announced in August that she will step down as president of Emory & Henry at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. She will have completed a seven-year administrative era that has been marked by historic levels of new construction. Known as the “Building President,” Reichard presided over more than $35 million in new construction and renovation projects, the largest level of investment in construction for any E&H president.
Among the projects were a $5 million renovation of Wiley Hall, the $7.4 million James H. Brooks Field House and Fred Selfe Stadium, a $6.3 million expansion and renovation of Byars Hall, and the construction of two residences halls, Elm and Hickory, totaling just over $13 million.
“The construction we have seen has been remarkable,” said John Eldridge, the outgoing chair of the E&H Board of Trustees. “She really provided the leadership that has made that happen.”
Through this program of major construction, Emory & Henry has become a model for environmental sustainability in the region. All major construction and renovation projects have received some level of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) certification. Byars Hall became the first- known LEED certified building in far Southwest Virginia.
The investment in new facilities was part of a larger, long-term plan to retain students and improve enrollment. To that end, Reichard also has laid foundations for future growth at the College by directing the creation of new and innovative academic programs, enhancing an administrative culture of professionalism, and working closely with students and student leaders to improve the quality of student life on campus.
From her first days as president, Emory & Henry’s 20th president encouraged members of the E&H faculty to continually think creatively about how their programs and departments could enhance enrollment and the institution’s reputation for excellence. She appointed a “Blue Sky Committee” that helped members of the faculty to examine their programs and think about how they could adapt to changing educational needs.
“Roz has opened our eyes to the possibilities of the College that we as trustees and we in the community were not aware of,” Eldridge said.
As members of the campus community continued to think about new approaches to the educational product, Reichard presided over a revitalization of the institution’s general education program and fostered the development of innovative graduate programs in education and organizational leadership.
Perhaps her most significant and far-reaching achievement in academic programming was the establishment of a doctor of physical therapy degree. Tentatively scheduled to begin in June 2014, the program will be housed on the newly acquired E&H campus in Marion, Va. The program, which is expected to draw as many as 90 new students and have an $11 million economic impact, provides the springboard for an expansion of health science education at the College.
The expansion of graduate and professional programs created greater opportunities for E&H students from the region, according to Dr. Chris Qualls, professor of psychology and former vice president for academic affairs. “The physical therapy program, our first doctorate-level program, will offer training in one of the fastest growing, highest paying professions and will allow our students to offer healthcare services to individuals not only in this region, but also throughout the country.”
Qualls also commended Reichard’s leadership in the creation of an undergraduate Honors Program, which has helped attract high-quality students whom previously the College had not been able to enroll. “The addition of these students to the college community has raised the level of intellectual inquiry in classrooms across the campus, which, in turn, has improved the educational experience for all students.”
While new buildings and new programs were springing up, Reichard worked on improving a culture of professionalism and administrative leadership aimed at higher levels of academic quality, better student recruitment and enhanced fund raising.
She began by insisting on administrative transparency that would enable stakeholders to have a better understanding of administrative operations and how they could best support those operations. As she did this, she worked to develop a bold strategic plan and to build greater consensus among members of the Board of Trustees and the faculty toward the objectives of that plan.
“She really raised the level of consciousness among members of the Board of Trustees to not only contribute their time and energy to advancing the institution, but also their resources,” said Bill Pendleton (‘72), the newly elected chair of the Board. “In addition, she has helped develop a more robust Board with members representing a much broader geographic area and a broader range of experiences and expertise.”
Among her administrative priorities was laying the groundwork for improvements in employee quality and, in time, compensation. She commissioned a salary study that helped identify needs for salary improvements and helped chart a path forward to accomplish that goal. She sought high levels of expertise in the hiring of new employees, especially among chief administrators, and she worked to enhance employee quality through program reviews and employee development opportunities.
One of her greatest accomplishments as a leader is her understanding of the value of the College’s people, according to Greg McMillan (‘90), who worked as Reichard’s executive assistant before becoming senior development officer. “President Reichard seems to understand intuitively that the best way to move an institution forward is to appreciate its people, to recognize their gifts and to help them overcome their weaknesses.”
Reichard sought to give better tools to administrators working in student recruitment and fund raising. She recently commissioned a promising study for the Office of Enrollment Management aimed at helping recruitment professionals identify and address key markets of prospective students. In fundraising, she helped establish systems that led to two consecutive years of dramatic increases in annual giving.
The President has won praise for the quality of administrative leaders she has brought to the institution. Among her most recent appointees are Dr. Dave Haney, vice president for academic affairs, and Joseph Taylor, vice president for institutional advancement. Both men come to their positions with great depth of experience and impressive records of accomplishment.
Under Taylor’s direction, the fundraising and alumni relations staff at the College has developed into a very strong team, McMillan said. “In many ways, fund raising at Emory & Henry has enjoyed a new head of steam in recent years, and Roz was instrumental in making that happen.”
Perhaps the accomplishment that gives Reichard the greatest sense of pride has been the emphasis she has placed on student engagement. That success is most visible in the work of students through the Appalachian Center for Community Service at the College, but it also has taken the form of student involvement and leadership in a wide variety of administrative activities at the campus.
With strong encouragement from Reichard, students have served on almost every committee related to administrative planning and strategic decision-making for the college. They were involved intimately in the planning for the 175th anniversary of the institution in 2011. And, more recently, they played a role in bringing a new restaurant, Macado’s, to the Emory community.
“This is perhaps an intangible accomplishment,” Reichard said. “You can’t point to a building to help identify our success in engaging students, but the involvement of students these past few years has really made a big difference – for the College and for students.”
Reichard leaves a strong legacy with regard to working with students and student leaders, according to Richard Aylor, a former student government president and a member of the E&H Class of 2011. “She really works with and listens to students. She is very open to student concerns and is always ready to meet with them when they have an issue.”
The Reichard years may well be remembered for the time when Emory & Henry began to find consistent forward momentum. During those years, which were also marked by serious national economic challenges, the College struck out boldly with new facilities and new academic programs designed to help it adjust to the challenges of the future.
In addition, thanks largely to Reichard’s strong emphasis on service learning, the College enjoyed its greatest levels of national recognition. In 2010, Emory & Henry became the first college or university in Virginia to receive the President’s Award for Community Service, the highest national recognition for service learning. Shortly thereafter, Washington Monthly named Emory & Henry one of the top 25 liberal arts colleges in the nation. In addition, Newsweek magazine ranked the College as one of the top five service learning institutions in the nation.
Reichard acknowledges that much important work remains. Members of the faculty must continue to look at bold, innovative ways to enhance their programs and make them relevant to the changing needs of students. New programs need to be a part of an overall strategy to better market the College in an increas-ingly competitive higher education environment. Meanwhile, fundraising professionals must continue to work to cultivate new sets of donors who can identify with the E&H mission.
In spite of the great work ahead, according to members of the Board of Trustees, Reichard has created the conditions that should help make that work easier. “She has shown this community that we must work together as we pursue innovative strategies that advance this college and continue this new momentum,” Pendleton said.
Those who have worked closely with Reichard note that her effective leadership has been built on consistency, compassion and a commitment to high standards. She has adhered to plans she outlined when she began at the College, and by not wavering from those objectives she was able to achieve tremendous results.
She embodies leadership, according to Bill Naehle, a member of the E&H Class of 1982 and a new member of the E&H Board of Trustees. “Here’s a woman who has met the challenges of raising two children, putting them through school, and playing both the administrative and academic side of higher education while finding excellence at every level. She has demonstrated real clarity and consistency at every rung of her career.”
Naehle added: “She knew this college well, and because of that she was able to address all the many, sometimes competing, interests here. I think the next president will see that she set an example of consistency, visibility and engagement that must be continued.”
Today, Reichard’s leadership qualities have become a rallying call for E&H employees, who offer great respect for (and often joke reverently about) the President’s demands for teamwork and planning in all areas of management. These employees and others who work closely with her recognize that her qualities of leadership have helped the College to move forward dramatically and have provided a sustainable path for continued growth.
The history of Emory & Henry may well mark President Reichard as not only its first female president, but the president who transformed the institution during challenging times from a small, high quality regional college to a national model for academic excellence built on serving people well beyond its campus borders.