By Audrey Barrett
After a year serving as President of Lewis & Clark, Wim Wiewel was inaugurated on Friday, Oct. 5. The event was planned to coincide with Homecoming and Family Weekend so that as many community members as possible could take part in the festivities. Faculty attended in full academic dress, and there were musical performances by the Four Directions Drum Group honoring the native land on which LC rests as well as the elders’ blessing by Celeste Whitewolf JD ’88. The choir performed “America the Beautiful” as well as a popular Dutch song, honoring Wiewel’s origins, and several alumni spoke at the event.
Associate Vice President Joe Becker said the event was intended to increase visibility of the college. This was evidently a success: the large turnout meant the event had to be held in Pamplin gym rather than the chapel, as was originally planned.
“This was an opportunity for people in Portland and beyond to see our academic community in action and to learn of President Wiewel’s vision and plans for the institution,” Becker said via email. “It was a great forum too to announce an $8.4 million gift from an anonymous donor for student scholarships.”
Central to Wiewel’s inaugural remarks was the much-anticipated Strategic Plan which consists of six specific goals that Wiewel believes will help make LC a national leader in higher education.
First, Wiewel aims to meet the needs of students by “developing new programs that build on our strengths related to sustainability, entrepreneurship and leadership, and, very importantly, the sciences,” Wiewel said.
Second, Strategic Enrollment Management will attract more international students and students from diverse domestic backgrounds by ameliorating student life and athletics programs.
Third, Wiewel plans to improve infrastructure by building and enhancing student housing, STEM buildings, the campus student center, music and theatre spaces, and athletic facilities. He also plans to make the Corbett House useful for “more than just furniture storage.”
Fourth, LC will improve diversity, equity and inclusion practices. “The overarching goal is to create an institutional culture of belonging, where all community members can fully participate,” Wiewel said.
Fifth, Wiewel wants to keep and reward existing high-quality staff and faculty with opportunities and resources to advance in their respective fields while recruiting more diverse faculty members as well.
Last, LC must conduct a comprehensive fundraising campaign to achieve these goals which will benefit the school for years to come.
Jordan Schnitzer, current president of Harsch Investment Properties, and one of the LC alumni who spoke at the ceremony, expressed faith in Wiewel’s ability to lead the college.
“I look at Wim and think, ‘Here is a man who has spent his life in training and experience for just this job at just this time,” Schnitzer said. “(Wiewel) has demonstrated the ability to create a vision, to coalesce faculty and to reach out to all of us in the community.”
The Strategic Plan will not result in any drastic changes anytime soon. It will set things in motions for changes to occur steadily in the next five years.
“I think as a whole all of the items in the Strategic Plan will have a very big impact on students, but the first effects won’t really be felt in almost all cases until a year or two from now, and while its a five year plan, the big impacts will be probably between years five and ten,” Wiewel said.