A Letter to the Goucher Community

August 2019

Dear Goucher Community—

I want to once again say thanks to everyone who welcomed me to campus and offered my wife and me assistance in getting settled here as quickly as possible, so that I could start as the new president of Goucher College on July 1. We are most appreciative of the warm welcome we have received.

At present, I am living on campus in the President’s House; my wife, Jan, will be joining me this fall as soon as we complete the sale of our house in Manchester, New Hampshire, where I served as president at the New Hampshire Institute of Art for the past five years. We are thrilled to join the Goucher community at such an exciting point in the college’s history.

Both Jan and I hold a special affection for small, private colleges and place great value on a broad liberal arts education. Jan attended Colgate University, where she majored in French and media studies before embarking upon a successful career as a documentary film editor. I studied music composition at Cornish College of the Arts, then art & technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, before serving on the faculty or in various leadership roles at four small, private colleges over the past thirty years.

When I reflect on Goucher today, I am reminded of the college’s legacy and enduring commitments in three areas: innovation, social justice, and global education. Whether it’s the bold, innovative changes the faculty have undertaken over the past four years to reinvent the liberal arts curriculum, the college’s commitment since 2012 to the Goucher Prison Education Program, or Goucher’s groundbreaking decision to become the first college in the nation to require international study as part of every undergraduate student’s education, Goucher has been a leader in higher education. Expect us to broaden and deepen Goucher’s commitment to all three areas in the years to come.

Over the past four years Goucher has also made great progress in our $100 million [UNDAUNTED] comprehensive campaign by completing the first three projects: the relocation of Froelicher Hall, the construction of the First-Year Village, and the Mary Fisher Dining Center. The completion of a fourth project this fall—the Evelyn Dyke Schroedl ’62 Tennis Center—will mark the halfway point of the campaign. Stay tuned for further news this fall with updated timelines for the completion of the four remaining projects in our comprehensive campaign.

However, like many small, private liberal arts colleges today, we too face significant challenges. Larger structural forces in the American higher education landscape—the declining high school age population, increasing student debt, rising health care costs, and the emergence of large, online mega universities—threaten the long-term financial sustainability of colleges like Goucher. To survive, Goucher will need to do what the college has always done best: innovate.

To enable us to meet these challenges, I’m proposing three priorities for this year: a focus on growing our enrollment, increasing our student retention, and ensuring our financial sustainability. To accomplish this, we won’t be launching any big new initiatives. Rather, we have plenty of work to do to ensure that the curricular changes and student support services we’ve already added these past few years work as well as intended. Meanwhile, we have already begun to make significant changes to our enrollment management strategy, with even more changes to come in the weeks ahead. I am confident that taken together these changes will increase applications for admission and student retention, two areas where the college has seen mixed results in the past. Expect to hear much more from me about these three priorities: enrollment, retention, and financial sustainability.

Once again, thanks to all of you who’ve extended such a warm welcome to my wife and me this summer. I look forward to continuing to meet all of you who I have not yet met in the weeks and months ahead. It is an exciting time to be at Goucher.

Sincerely,

Kent Devereaux