Carol Long already has decided on her first actions when she returns to Willamette on Aug. 26 as senior vice president for academic and student affairs. She plans to listen.
Although Long spent 37 years at Willamette, as a professor of English, associate dean and, from 2004-09, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School of Education, she knows that the university has changed. She’s also different, as a result of her experiences at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she served as provost and vice president of academic affairs from 2009 and as the school’s interim president from 2013-15.
“I have certainly changed a lot and learned many new things in my years away, and I suspect that is equally true of Willamette and its residents,” she says. “I very much look forward to learning about the campus today.”
Long is eager to meet students and faculty and to learn about their aspirations and challenges, as well as to forge effective working relationships with colleagues both old and new.
Long had intended to retire from Geneseo at the end of the 2016-17 academic year and to do some nonprofit work after returning to the Pacific Northwest. She altered her plans when President Steve Thorsett asked her to rejoin Willamette. She says she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help sustain “a collaborative, humane, successful and innovative learning community that is focused on contributing to the public good.”
President Thorsett, who describes Long as a “thoughtful and consultative listener, communicator, and leader,” says her interim appointment will allow the university to fine-tune the senior vice president position before making a permanent, long-term appointment.
Long adds, “I look forward to the process of helping to define the position, to discover how it can contribute to improved management and leadership, to clarify how it might strengthen shared governance, and to organize the office in ways that will successfully support the eventual holder.”
While her position focuses on Academic Affairs and Campus Life, Long will also support the university’s strategic plan, accreditation, and enrollment and advancement efforts — work she describes in simple terms as “helping the university thrive.”
After years spent on the East Coast, Long looks forward to seeing Oregon and its mountains again. But, mainly, she’s happy to return to “an institution I love.”