Dear Members of the Centenary University Community,
I am writing to you on my first official week as president of Centenary University. I say “official” because my wife Lisa Baldwin and I have been experiencing an extremely warm welcome from the Centenary and Hackettstown communities since my appointment was first announced in February, and especially since our permanent move to the area in early May.
We moved from southwest Virginia, where I was the chief academic officer at Emory & Henry College, a Methodist-related private liberal arts college, and where Lisa was an award-winning elementary school teacher. While I am learning how to be Centenary’s president, Lisa will be doing what she already does best—teaching elementary school students, this time as a second-grade teacher at Hatchery Hill Elementary School in Hackettstown.
We have already had a wonderful time meeting people both on and off campus, while enjoying the area’s spectacular combination of small-town hospitality, natural beauty, and proximity to New York City.
Lisa and I are currently renting a house in Independence Township, about 10 minutes from campus. Over the next year, we will be eagerly watching the reconstruction of the president’s house—tragically destroyed by fire in January 2015—on what is now an unsightly hole in the ground at the corner of Jefferson and Moore in Hackettstown. We are excited that this will be our home, but we are even more excited that this important piece of Hackettstown’s and Centenary’s history will be revived as a site for both university and community gatherings, and we will invite everyone to follow along as the new house takes shape.
I am still formulating the specific goals for the first year of my presidency. However, many of them are clear now, and all of them will involve supporting the strong faculty, staff, students, and external supporters who are responsible for the university’s success. I will immerse myself in the university community in both formal and informal ways, getting to know the students, staff and faculty and learning how best to collaborate in moving the university forward. I will also reach out to Centenary’s external constituencies, including the business, faith, and civic communities in and around Hackettstown; those involved in regional, state, and national government; alumni; and the many generous friends and potential friends who have supported and will continue to support Centenary University. With the conclusion of the current strategic plan in 2017, we will begin a new strategic planning process as soon as possible, and I will work to make the process inclusive and visionary, but also practical and results-oriented. I will support and expand the initiatives already underway to achieve long-term financial stability through both operational efficiencies and additional revenue. We will continue to work hard to recruit and retain a diverse population of students who will reap maximum benefits from a Centenary education, in the undergraduate and graduate programs at our Hackettstown, equestrian, and School of Professional Studies locations, as well as online and in the business community. I will also support the ongoing efforts to bring the university’s technological infrastructure up to date, for student learning, faculty and staff work, and our business practices.
I want to give a special thanks to Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite as she leaves the presidency after eight very successful years. She and I have worked very closely to make this presidential transition as seamless as possible, and she has been very generous with her time, her insights, and her connections. I still have much to learn, but I enter this position with a good foundation for that learning. On one hand, the leadership she has shown for the past eight years sets a very high bar for the incoming president. On the other hand, the many improvements to Centenary that have occurred under her leadership give me advantages that many new presidents lack.
Transparent communication is very important to me, and I will report regularly to the Centenary community on how things are going from the presidential perspective. Twitter is one of the means by which I will do that; if you are interested in following me, my Twitter handle is @PresidentHaney. Please follow Centenary University as well if you don’t already: @Centenary_NJ.
This will be an exciting year for Centenary, as we celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary, the achievement of university status, the new location of the School of Professional Studies learning center in Parsippany, and the many successes of our students, faculty, and staff. I am eager to get started on the important work of leading Centenary as I am humbled by the great responsibility that has been entrusted to me as the 13th president of this evolving and forward-looking institution. Whether you are a student, faculty member, staff member, alum, or friend of the university, I look forward to getting to know you and to your counsel, advice, and support.