COLUMBIA — With 35 branches and a vast online campus under his command, Scott Dalrymple said he is going to make Columbia College feel like a college family.
Dalrymple, former dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., was introduced to faculty, staff, students and community members Wednesday morning in Launer Auditorium. It was his first public appearance after being named president on Friday.
Students, staff and faculty members interviewed after the event said they look forward to Dalrymple's tenure. They like his high-energy leadership, his stance on higher education issues such as student debt and his ability to find common ground for a nationwide system of college branches.
"He's very innovative in the way he thinks," said Misty Haskamp, institutional research director at Columbia College. "He seems very engaged, which would fit well with the college."
Daisy Grossnickle, chairwoman of the Columbia College Board of Trustees that selected the new president, introduced Dalrymple at the ceremony. She commended him for planning to build on the legacy of former college President Gerald Brouder, who retired in August.
"We wanted a leader who is a strong communicator," Grossnickle said. "We have that in Dr. Dalrymple."
Dalrymple told the gathering that reaching out to students will be important to a successful future for the college. Students should pursue internships and build networks in the professional world while in college, he said.
He said he wants to talk with students who attend Columbia College to see what they enjoy about the school. However, he stated that seeking out unfavorable views is just as critical to achieving improvement.
"I need to talk to students who didn't choose Columbia College and find out why. Some of them might have some good ideas as to what we could have done differently or could do different," Dalrymple said.
In an interview after the ceremony, Dalrymple talked about the rising cost of higher education and his goal to ease the financial burden.
"The real story in higher education over the next 20 years is going to have to do with how students pay for college," he said. "I think we can be part of that conversation and need to find ways to be creative in how people pay for college."
During his public remarks, Dalrymple said that while he was growing up in upstate New York, he planned to be an auto mechanic; at that time, he couldn't think of a single person in his family who attended college. But a school guidance counselor set him firmly on the path toward higher education.
He said that at Excelsior College, he helped bring together the online and bricks-and-mortar campus and plans to apply what he learned through that experience to Columbia College.
"I think there are some exciting opportunities to grow programs on the main campus in Columbia and to grow programs at the adult and online campuses," Dalrymple said. "My honest aim is to give energy to both of those worlds."
A reception followed the event in Atkins-Holman Student Commons.
"Columbia College is a very special place. I'm very, very glad to be here, and I will work very, very hard. Let's 'go for greater,'" Dalrymple said, referring to the college's slogan.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.