Big changes were discussed for the Lynchburg, Va. liberal arts school, including adding “university” to its name.
The Lynchburg College Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and 11 students came together Oct. 22 through 24 for a retreat at the Wintergreen Resort with the goal of sharing ideas to improve the college over the next five to 10 years.
From the vantage point of the students, it was a high honor to attend the retreat. They were put right in the middle of the planning process and were able to form relationships with the trustees, staff and faculty. Students in a variety of leadership positions attended, creating an array of perspectives.
The students’ reflections were a representation of the positivity they felt at the retreat.
“The one thing I cannot stop exclaiming was how open and receiving the Trustee Board members were to student input,” Sarah Scruggs, a doctorate of physical therapy student, said. “These confident, wise men and women have been directing the college for years yet they were entirely welcoming of each student’s point of view.”
The retreats are held about every three to five years, and students are an integral part of the process. Not only is the Board of Trustees proposing ideas for change, but also the student leaders were proposing ideas of their own. The three-day retreat was broken up into several workshops that had different focus points for discussion, and concluded with the regular October board meeting on Saturday morning.
The attendees were broken up into teams that were compiled of trustees, faculty, staff and students for the workshop discussions. The first activity was to get everyone accustomed to each other by working as a group to accomplish a goal. Peter Berry, adjunct for health and physical education, lead a team building activity that required the groups to build a structure out of Legos that represented what LC is and what it will look like in the future. The activity broke any barriers between the students, staff, faculty and trustees, creating a comfortable, equal environment.
Christopher Miller, sophomore student government association (SGA) 2nd Vice President, shared that upon getting to know his team, his anxiousness was relieved.
“I was nervous being in the presence of powerful people. I admired how the Board of Trustees talked to me as if I were a friend of theirs,” Miller said.
Between the hours of sharing ideas and discussion, the attendees spent time socializing and got to know one another. For the students, this was prime time for networking.
“The other piece is meeting all these amazing board members from different walks of life and the wealth of knowledge and advice that they possess,” Hannah Myers, graduate student and an intern for Steve Bright, said. “I left with people offering me opportunities and advice and who knows what will happen next.”
The entire retreat was an opportunity for the college’s leadership to come together to reach a common goal: the modernization of LC. It required out-of-the-box thinking and high aspirations; the students met both characteristics and were excited to be a part of the process.
“Of all my five years here, this has been the most powerful experience,” Taylor Sands, graduate student and graduate assistant for the office of community involvement, said. Myers shared similar feelings.
“Faculty, let alone students, at other institutions NEVER get to do what we just did today. What I saw happen today reignited my passion for what I do in student affairs and makes me excited for graduation to come and for me to take the next steps in my career,” Myers said in an email.
The students emphasized that the school’s future is safely in the hands of the Board of Trustees, and that other students should get involved with the future planning processes with the ideas considered at the retreat.
“Being a Hornet means taking ownership of this institution we love, taking advantage of the support, and striving to make our ‘Hornet Nation,’ a household name,” Sands said.
The Strategic Planning Committee will hold open forums on several upcoming dates. Visit the Vision for 2020: Strategic Planning page at lynchburg.edu for more information.