Greetings to the Campus Community

July 1, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that I join the Willamette University community today.

For many months now, members of the Board of Trustees, Lee Pelton, the presidential search committee and the transition planning committee have been working in support of my transition to Willamette, providing a current institutional snapshot, gathering historical materials and documents, scheduling introductory events for students, faculty, staff, alumni and other key friends of the University, and identifying matters that require my immediate attention over the course of the upcoming academic year.

All of this groundwork has been tremendously valuable to me in the last few weeks, and I am especially grateful to Lee and Steve Wynne, Chair of the Board of Trustees, for their generous support during this period; also to the members of the broadly representative Presidential Transition Planning Committee for their efforts on behalf of my orientation and transition.

Now that I have arrived, however, it is important for me to move from an understanding of Willamette based on the study of briefing reports, spreadsheets and charts to one more fully and directly informed by conversations with members of the broad Willamette community. Not only will these conversations contribute to my own knowledge and understanding, they seem critical, in light of the limited interactions afforded by the confidential search process, to getting acquainted with campus colleagues.

Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with the deans and administrative leadership, and hope to begin discussions with those staff and faculty who are on campus in July and early August. As the new academic year approaches and brings students and faculty back to campus, I know there will be additional opportunities for us to meet and interact. I look forward to learning more about Willamette and hearing from you about your hopes and aspirations for this distinctive and exciting place.

Although the Willamette community may have been preparing for this transition for more than a year, the change has come upon me and my family much more suddenly. It has been hard to say farewell in the last few weeks to the many friends my family and I made in twelve years in Santa Cruz, but we have been deeply touched by the genuine warmth and enthusiasm of the welcome here, from both the campus and Salem communities. My wife Rachel and daughter Laura will be traveling back and forth between Salem and Santa Cruz for a while yet, but all of us are looking forward to meeting you in the weeks and months ahead.

With best wishes,

Steve Thorsett