Interim President Wilbert Friesen wants students “to take risks and try things they never have” during this year. Managing Editor Christina Graw sat down with Friesen to discuss his vision and plan for the next year.
Christina Graw: Last year at this time you were our provost. This year your role has completely changed. Are you ready for all of the changes this year will bring?
Wilbert Friesen: I am looking forward to growing and learning along with our students. I want this to be a year of experimenting in new ways of learning.
CG: Is there a specific date when you will become our official university president?
WF: I will be serving as the interim president until spring of 2012. In the fall of 2011 the board of trustees will begin the yearlong process of finding a new president.
CG: Do you have a specific vision for this year and beyond?
WF: I have a pretty clear-cut vision for the next year. It is a list of four directives that I was given by the board of trustees. Those include: higher learning commission, enrollment and retention, governance structure and strategic planning.
CG: I’ve heard rumor that enrollment was down for this year’s freshman class. Do you know why the numbers were so low?
WF: There are a lot of different factors that may cause low enrollment. I plan on working closely with faculty this year on our enrollment and retention.
CG: What are some of the challenges you will face this year?
WF: Like we have already discussed enrollment is definitely something we will be working on this year. We had a goal of 600 new freshmen this year. Unfortunately, we were closer to 500. We will be working to find new places to recruit future students. Another concern we have is financial aid and the budget for the school.
CG: What are you looking forward to most this year?
WF: I am looking forward to working with the faculty, and helping students find their place in the world. I believe that it is going to be another great year of learning for our students.
CG: You seem to genuinely enjoy interacting with students. What do you enjoy most about your interactions with them?
WF: I look forward to seeing our students grow and learn. I love watching them engage our culture and our world. It’s exciting to see them discovering the opportunities in front of them.
Christina Graw Managing Editor and contributing writer for The Aviso.