President Mauri Ditzler readies for final farewell
April 11, 2014
In prepration for when he formally begins a new career as president of Albion College in Albion, Michigan, President Mauri Ditzler reflects on his nine-year career at Monmouth College.
The end of June will mark the end of a career spanning nine years at Monmouth College when President Mauri Ditzler will officially hand over the reins to an interim or official successor. News Editor Cassie Burton interviewed Ditzler for his closing remarks.
<strong>Courier: What made you come to Monmouth?</strong>
President Ditzler: I was intrigued by curriculum the college had just adopted. I was intrigued by the focus on integrated learning and the commitment to citizenship. Sometimes if you work at a very good college, they think, ‘We ought not to take any risks because we’re already so good,’ and on the other hand, there are institutions that have a desire to get better but don’t have the resources. Monmouth seemed to be at that sweet spot in the middle where people said let’s make this institution better every year…and [we] have the resources to build on it.
<strong>C: What is most exciting about working on Monmouth College?</strong>
P.D.: It’s easy to be excited to work at Monmouth when you interact with students every day. Walking across campus I get a bright smile from a student or a student who engages me in conversation. The students do a great job of encouragement.
<strong>C: So what is one of the moments that students helped make memorable?</strong>
P.D.: I’d been here about five years and I was having a conversation with resident assistants at the beginning of the year who’ve come back early for training…and this particular group said, ‘Let’s talk about things we might do this year to improve the educational experience for all Monmouth students.’ I’m not sure what created the atmosphere that lead that group of RA’s to have that conversation but to me it was a pivotal moment in the institution.
<strong>C: So besides the curriculum, what factors at Monmouth College made it the easiest to get done what you have gotten done during your term?</strong>
P.D.: There’s a good team to work with. You start at the top of the pyramid with the students. Much of what I’ve done at Monmouth has come out of conversations with students. Then we have this marvelous faculty of about 100 individuals. Whether they’re just starting or completing their career, they have that wonderful enthusiasm and that wonderful idealism. At the end of the pyramid would be our trustees. Our trustees are some of our most innovative, creative, cutting-edge advocacies for the institution. And I’ve had a wonderful staff of vice presidents over nine years.
<strong>C: What is one of the most memorable moments you have experienced?</strong>
P.D.: It’s fun to open new facilities on campus so I remember the dedication for the new academic complex. It was fun because I could dream of and imagine all the great learning that’s going to happen in that building over the next 50 years.
<strong>C: One of the projects completed during your career was the CSB. How many new building projects have you done?</strong>
P.D.: Every college that I’ve worked at, at least every one I’ve worked at for any length of time, has been building or reconstructing academic buildings to contain the science departments. That’ll be the seventh project I’ve worked on that’s included a science lab. I’m certain it’s the best project.
<strong>C: How long have you been working on a new science building at Monmouth?</strong>
P.D.: I started in July 1, 2005 and in February of 2005; the board of trustees discussed the need for new buildings on campus. The topic of conversation was, ‘Should we build a new science building and remodel McMichael for an expanding business program?’ Or ‘Should we build a new program for our business department and remodel HT?’ They had just rolled out the new integrated curriculum. The idea was, if we really are going to focus on integrated learning, let’s make sure that our buildings support our curriculum. At that point the insight to put science and business together came from that new curriculum.
<strong>C: What do you think you are going to miss the most?</strong>
P.D.: I’ll miss the students. I’ll miss the ILA dinners at Quinby House…now talking about memorable moments, those are the most memorable moments. I’ve learned as much about the liberal arts as the students have at those dinners. I’ll miss Saturday football games, I’ll miss the faculty meetings and I’ll miss the meetings with the trustees. I’ll miss looking out the windows of the Quinby house, watching this campus on a winter night.
<strong>C: Do you know what your last project is going to be?</strong>
P.D.: I’m going to create a notebook with lots of pieces of paper. Each page is going to be some thoughts for the new president. There’ll be a page with comments on just about any project you can imagine. The new president might choose to ignore all of those things, but I want to leave it as a resource. It’s still a good exercise to do because it’ll be good for me to reflect on each of those projects.
<strong>C: What has been your greatest accomplishment? </strong>
P.D.: The things I’m most interested in and proud of are ideas, and we built the campus around the ideas. I believe that the institution that I’m leaving is more focused on academic excellence than when I arrived. I’ll also miss participating in the religious discussions on campus.
<strong>C: Are you going to visit campus?</strong>
P.D.: Other than the notebook that I’ll leave for the next president that he or she can throw away and not share with anyone else, I’ll try to give the new president full reign. Now after three or four years, I’ll slip back to campus, probably on a Saturday in the fall, or I may wander back to see how the experimental farm is doing and pick some strawberries. As time passes, I’ll probably come back to more and more events.
<strong>C: Do you have any closing remarks? </strong>
P.D.: It’s been as much fun as I’d hoped it would be. There are times I think about how much has happened in nine years, and how long it’s been. And other times I think about it, and really, it’s gone by in a flash of an eye.