Catawba celebrates installation of new president

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Maggie Blackwell
At his installation as president of Catawba College, Dr. W. Craig Turner stressed the importance of teamwork.
“The essential element of building a great institution is team members who commit to work together,” Turner said Monday.
Turner has served as president since June 2008 and was installed at a formal ceremony at Catawba, ironically enough, on Presidents’ Day. The pageantry included a procession of delegates from 68 colleges, universities and learning societies. Professor Paul Oakley, the college’s organist, wrote a hymn for the occasion, and college musicians performed eight other musical selections.
Paul Fisher, chairman of the Catawba board of trustees and chair of the search committee that selected the new president, announced Turner’s installation as former chairman Tom Smith presented Turner with the Catawba hood.
Members of the college and community joined to welcome Turner to the position.
Christopher Zink, chairman of the faculty senate and professor of theatre arts, referred to particularly challenging times for the college and the nation. He identified three qualities necessary for a team to survive: cooperation, collaboration and community.
Zink shared that Turner has been busily team-building since his arrival, asking staff to identify how Catawba has succeeded in the past, what it needs to do for the future and how it should implement steps to thrive in the 21st Century.
Craig Turnbull, chairman of the staff council and assistant athletic director for internal operations and NCAA compliance, welcomed Turner in a time of challenge for all colleges and institutes.
Dr. A. Hope Williams, president of the N.C. Independent Colleges & Universities, compared Catawba to its sister institutions ó 16 public universities and 35 private colleges ó saying it shares with its community. Williams told of Catawba’s working farm during the Depression. The college “opened the gates” so the community could share in the harvest.
Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz thanked Catawba for its contributions to the city through students, staff and alumni, making the city richer, particularly through its work in the arts and the environment.
Darlene Ball, vice-chairwoman of the board of trustees, introduced Turner, saying he lives by Robert Browning’s creed: “Why stay we on this earth but that we grow?”
In his remarks, Turner recognized the presidents who have preceded him: Stephen Wurster, the 18th president of Catawba, represented by his widow Jean Wurster; Fred Corriher, the 19th president of the school; and Bob Knott, Turner’s immediate predecessor.
Turner thanked his wife Annette, saying she is the “smart one in the family,” and recognized his daughter and son-in-law, introducing them as the parents of his twin grandchildren. Turner’s longtime pastor flew from Maryland for the event.
Turner focused on teamwork in his address, saying the essential ingredient for any team is to commit to work together as a true team. “We are in the opportunity business. We open doors for our students and we have no idea what impact they will have on the world.
“Today we have the best faculty and staff Catawba has ever had,” Turner said. “Our challenge is to commit to making the biggest difference Catawba has ever made.”
Fisher said, “I am truly excited about our future. The world is naturally full of challenges, but more importantly, it is full of opportunities. We have the opportunity to make a change here at home and abroad. … I’m excited, Dr. Turner is excited, and our college is excited. That change might as well begin here at Catawba.”
Jean Wurster, staff member and widow of former Catawba president Stephen Wurster said, “We are so fortunate to have this wonderful man and his wife. I’m thrilled to be a part of his team, even in a tiny way.”
Turner comes to Catawba from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Under his direction, Hardin-Simmons experienced record enrollment, record endowment and surplus budgets. He was selected for Catawba from a field of 156 applicants from 36 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.
Turner closed his remarks with two favorite quotes, one from Robert Browning and one from the Bible.
From Browning: “Look up ó advance ó all now is possible.”
And from the book of Isaiah: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”