Carolyn Perry, Westminster’s first female President, celebrated at Center for Faith and Service
BY ALLIE KENNEBECK
On a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, members of the Remley Women’s Center invited the Westminster Community into the cozy Center for Faith and Service building to help celebrate Dr. Carolyn Perry, Westminster’s first female president.
Having served as the college’s senior vice president since 2012 and dean of faculty since 2008, Perry assumed the role of acting president this August following the resignation of former president Dr. Benjamin Akande. In doing so, she ended an all-male streak of Westminster presidents dating back to 1855.
Now, with the selection of Dr. Fletcher Lamkin as the college’s next permanent president, Perry will soon return to her regular position. Remley’s Oct. 24 reception was held to commemorate Perry’s time as acting president and her overall contributions to the college.
On the day of the reception, the first room inside the Center for Faith and Service was filled with people of all ages. Students, professors, alumni and friends of Perry’s were present to celebrate, eating fruit and desserts, and hoping to get a few words with the guest of honor before they left. Perry positioned herself in the middle of the room, talking to anyone who wanted to chat with her.
When asked about her experience as acting president of Westminster College thus far, she explained that it has been a privilege to work in a community that is so tight-knit, loyal and committed. She said that this atmosphere has made her transition to the acting president’s position not only a less difficult process but also a fun, worthwhile experience.
She added that she was intrigued by the alteration of responsibilities that came with the change of positions and would continue to carry out those responsibilities if she remained acting president.
“I really enjoyed building the president’s team and making sure that they were supported well and worked together well,” she said. “So, I would want to continue making sure we’re all pulling together to make Westminster strong. I also really enjoy telling the story of Westminster, and I would have been happy to have had more opportunities to make Westminster’s successes known—especially among alumni and donors.”
However, Perry will, of course, be returning to her the senior vice president and dean of faculty position.
“I think the dean of faculty position might be the best one an administrator could have, because it focuses on hiring the best faculty, getting them the resources they need to do excellent work and supporting student academic endeavors,” she said. “There are plenty of headaches, as with any job, but I’m looking forward to getting back.”
Perry, who taught English for her first 17 years at Westminster and has been an adviser to Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and to the Remley Women’s Center, also said that her favorite moments at the college revolve around her tenure as dean of faculty.
One of her favorite memories is more of an image, she said, “a picture of a number of our younger female faculty together at the Women’s History Month Conference a few years back.” She added, “I remember thinking how brilliant and vibrant and strong our female faculty are, and I was so proud that I had played a role in recruiting them and helping them find their place at Westminster.”
Perry said that it may take time for her to readjust to her dean of faculty position; however, she added that she believes she can more be effective at her position once she does settle in, as she has gained valuable skills and insights from her brief yet historic stint as Westminster’s first female president.