Stimpert seeks community partnerships

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hampden-Sydney College’s (H-SC) new president wants the institution to be the best neighbor and partner it can be with the community.

“It’s always a priority for a school like H-SC to be a good neighbor,” said Stimpert, who officially took office July 1. “So, I’ve been reaching out and meeting with folks and a couple members of the county board of supervisors a couple weeks ago, and just last week, I had lunch with (Longwood University President) Taylor Reveley … about sort of a common agenda.”

Not only does Stimpert want to connect with the community — including Longwood — but he wants Hampden-Sydney to better it.

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“One of the things we talked about is intergovernmental, interorganizational cooperations. So, how do we bring the county, the (town), the two schools together for the benefit of the whole community?” Stimpert said.

Prior to H-SC, Stimpert was vice president for academic affairs and professor of economics and management at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. Before being contacted by H-SC’s search firm, Stimpert said he’d heard about the college and met alumni while working in Washington, D.C.

Stimpert said he originally didn’t think of himself as the president of an all-men’s college, but a book changed his mind.

“(It) really changed my life in a lot of ways. It’s called The Distinctive College … (it) says there’s a lot of liberal arts colleges out there. Why do some emerge as more distinctive than others? Why are some standouts? And I’ve always been interested in that,” he said.

Stimpert said he easily fell in love with H-SC after his initial interview.

“One of the things that the leader of any organization has to do is create momentum for the organization and so we hope to keep that going,” he said. “I think everybody focuses on the proverbial early wins (but) we’re also … crafting a longer-term strategy for the college.”

Stimpert said people easily notice H-SC’s unique mission being the development of young men. Peel back the layers, he said, and people find there’s “lots of distinctive things” about the college. One, he said, is H-SC’s commitment to developing students’ leadership talents.

“I think faculty as well as staff (agree) that what we’re interested in is developing the total student here … the social, physical, emotional, spiritual, moral, and … a lot of that occurs outside the classroom.”

Another “huge priority” is to continue increasing the school’s reputation and stature, as well as recruiting and admissions efforts and fundraising.

“They all depend on the quality of the educational experience we offer. So, we can go out and do more publicity for the school, but, ultimately, if we don’t have a great educational program here, it’s like selling snake oil,” Stimpert said.

He said H-SC is also unique because of students’ self government, citing an honor code and code of conduct.

“We expect our young men to behave as gentlemen at all times,” Stimpert said.

He said three strengths the college can build upon are its heritage and distinctiveness, alumni loyalty and its “tremendously committed” faculty.

Stimpert said he’s interested in better syncing the school’s academic calendar with Longwood’s because students at each school can take courses at the other campus, “but when we’re on totally different academic calendars, it’s very hard to make that happen.”