Catawba friends chat with new president
By Sarah Nagem
When Dr. Stephen Wurster died in 1992 while he was president of Catawba College, his wife decided to remain a part of the Catawba community.
Jean Wurster started working at the college library. She even sits in on an occasional history class.
Through her 11 years as First Lady at the college, during which she raised three children, and another 15 years or so in the library, Wurster knows Catawba.
And she says Dr. Craig Turner and his wife, Annette, are perfect for the school. Turner took over as president in June.
“I think they’re very well matched at Catawba College,” Wurster said Sunday at the school’s Peeler Crystal Lounge. “It just seems like a good fit.”
More than 250 people gathered at Catawba’s campus Sunday afternoon to meet and greet the Turners.
Alumni and friends of the school were invited to the event ó the last of five such gatherings since Turner started his new job. Over the summer, school leaders organized receptions in Charlotte, Hickory, Greensboro and Raleigh so folks could get to know Turner and his wife.
“They’ve arrived in Salisbury not knowing one person,” said Tom Childress, senior vice president at Catawba.
The family moved here from Texas, where Turner had spent six years as president of Hardin-Simmons University.
Annette Turner said she grew up in a small town in Texas.
“It was a very warm community ó just like this one,” she said.
During a brief speech Sunday, Dr. Turner said he and his wife are liking Salisbury.
“We have been welcomed,” he said. “We have felt the warmth of the Catawba community, the Salisbury community. … The decision to come to Catawba was an easy one.”
Many people who gathered at the event had nice things to say about the new president.
“It’s invigorating to have new blood,” said Dr. David Fish, a music professor at Catawba.
Fish explained that former president Dr. Robert Knott, who retired, is missed at Catawba, though.
Knott attended the gathering Sunday.
Charlie Little, who graduated from Catawba in 1964, was there with his wife, Phyllis, who graduated in 1966.
Turner was the best candidate for the job, said Charlie Little, who played football for the school.
He said he wants Catawba’s administration to increase the college’s enrollment.
“And of course, they’re always in need of money,” he said. “So I want them to boost the endowment.”
Phyllis Little said she has been impressed by Turner.
“He’s very direct,” she said. “I like it.”