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January 27, 2010 by Kevin Dayhoff
Last Wednesday, Westminster community leaders had an opportunity to meet and welcome McDaniel president-elect Dr. Roger N. Casey and his wife, Ms. Robyn Allers at a reception held at the Carroll Arts Council.
Casey, 48, was selected by the McDaniel board of trustees to serve as the 142-year-old college’s ninth president on December 17 to succeed President Joan Develin Coley as of July 1, 2010.
An article published in Explore Carroll on April 22, 2009 noted, “Coley announced her retirement at an executive session of the April 18 board of trustees meeting at the college. Coley has served as McDaniel’s president for 10 years and her retirement will start June 30, 2010…
“Coley has spent her life in higher education, accumulating 40 years of experience in the classroom and in administration. Prior to her serving as McDaniel president, she served as provost for six years. She joined the college faculty in 1973 as director of the Graduate Reading Program and was later promoted to serve as dean of Graduate Affairs and chair of the Department of Education…
‘It has been my great fortune to spend almost all of my working life on this [McDaniel] college campus, a place I love and believe in with unreasonable passion,’ she said in a news release issued today by the college.”
Casey currently serves as the vice president of academic affairs and provost of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He was chosen to lead the college during a national search conducted by a presidential search committee, led by Mary Lynn Durham, a 1970 graduate of the college, who serves as the vice chair of the board of trustees, eight trustees, three elected faculty members, one administrator and one student.
“During the search interviews and campus visits, Dr. Casey distinguished himself as a visionary leader who understands McDaniel’s steadfast commitment to academic excellence through collaborative learning and deliberate faculty mentoring of students,”, said Martin K. P. Hill, chairman of McDaniel’s board of trustees, according to the McDaniel College web site.
“We are absolutely confident that Roger will respect our traditions and realize our aspirations through focusing the College’s vision, advancing its mission and implementing its strategic plan.”
“With labor and love, I will do my best to live up to the expectations of those who have given me the chance to be the organizational leader of a community that champions the tradition of liberal arts education. … Great things lie ahead for McDaniel,” said Casey, in a letter addressed to the McDaniel community posted on the college’s web site.
“The sense of community that undergirds it, is what first drew me to ‘the Hill,’” continued Casey in his letter. “Building on the exceptional work of President Coley and her predecessors, my job is now clear: to make sure everyone hears the fullest understanding of what that tradition and its present manifestation means at McDaniel.
“I believe that message is important to our existing community, to future students, to this region, to donors and other supporters, to American higher education, and to the world. The message is that McDaniel makes a difference.”
Casey is a South Carolina native who “graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Furman University in 1983 and went on to earn both an M.A. degree and a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University,” according to the McDaniel College web site.
Allers was in her element at the arts council reception. She currently serves “as the interim director of Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins,” said the web article introducing the president-elect last December.
“Prior to Rollins, Casey served Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama as an associate dean and professor from 1991-2000.”
At the reception, Casey, who has studied and traveled in more than 60 countries, noted that he was also right at home in the Tevis Gallery at the Arts Council. Behind him, as he shared brief remarks, was the art of a number of artists who grew-up in other parts of the world, but now make Maryland their home.
Casey said in his letter to the McDaniel community last December, when it was announced that he was appointed, that he and his wife were traveling in Laos.
Hill noted the international flair of the reception in his introductory remarks; noting that the “current exhibit, ‘Ubuntu,’ is a collection of international artists… It serves as a perfect back drop” for the reception. “Dr. Roger Casey is himself an advocate for the transformational nature of global study and travel.”
“In 1994, Casey was named a Fellow of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation that supported his travel to 16 countries over a four-year period to examine the role of vision in the creation of community, a transformational experience that has instilled a strong sense of global and local responsibility,” according to McDaniel College.
“His current scholarly passions,” according to information from McDaniel, “include exploring the organizational behaviors of Generation X and The Millennials, examining literary and film depictions of teachers and students, and studying the impact of social media on higher education. His expertise in these areas earns him frequent invitations to present at both national academic conferences and in corporate settings.”
It was also noted that, “He has been a theatrical producer, director, and actor, most recently in 2006 as F. Scott Fitzgerald in a Winter Park production of ‘Devotedly, With Dearest Love: The Letters of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.’”
Hill also noted at the reception, “Each of the eight previous presidents at McDaniel have found it easy to feel at home in Westminster. I am certain this will be the first of many opportunities to meet and get to know Roger and Robyn.”
Allers shared in a conversation with several folks who had gathered around her, including Marcus Lee Primm, Dave Bollinger, and Corynne Courpas, that she and Casey had quietly visited Westminster and the college one day last fall.
She remarked that she and her husband were impressed with the sense of community and history, and the friendliness of the students and the Westminster community.
“How delighted we are, Robyn and I, to meet you… We are looking forward to calling Westminster our home,” said Casey in his remarks at the reception. “It is an honor to follow in Joan’s (Coley’s) footsteps…”
Commissioners Mike Zimmer and Dean Minnich joined with county chief of staff, Steve Powell to meet the new president. Minnich, who had noted that Allers is also a writer, expressed that he was eager to get to know the president-elect and his wife.
Also, present were Westminster mayor Kevin Utz, along with council members Damian Halstad, Tony Chiavacci, Dr. Robert Wack, and Greg Pecoraro. Halstad, also a writer, nodded in approval as Audrey Cimino, the executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, and also an actress, singer and fan of the theatre, looked on.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with the college and we’re looking forward to continuing that relationship with Dr. Casey,” said Halstad.
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