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since 1960 '‘of, by, and for the Wesleyan Community ” November lo, 2010
North Carolina Wesleyan College Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27804
President Gray Reflects on First Year, Looks Ahead
By Emelie Lundgren
Decree Staff Writer
James Gray's first year as president has come
to an end, a year of changes designed to raise the
academic level of the students and increase school
The president mentioned the changes during a
wide-ranging interview thattouched on future plans
for students as well as campus, fund-raising goals,
the upcoming capital campaign and gaps in the
budget, among others issues.
First and foremost Gray has soughtto raise the
academic level at Wesleyan and make it correlate
with the new student body. He said that an analysis
of the college’s drop-out rate found that many
freshmen lacked the academic skills required to
pass classes. A three-year-strategic plan has been
presented to put an end to the negative trend, the
president said. The first step is to make sure that
the college accepts new students who possess the
ability to survive Wesleyan's academic standards.
Last year's retention situation was a major
disappointment for Gray. "Too many students are
leaving, most for academic reasons," he said. "But
I'm confident we are turning that around."
While the application rate rose by 4% in 2010,
the rejection rate increased by 40% as part of the
college’s efforts to raise standards.
This led to a volume decrease in the class of 2014
ratherthan the planned increase, a setbackfor a
college that hopes to increase day-time student
enrollment from about 700to 1,000 in the next three
But President Gray stressed that Wesleyan must
maintain the new standards and notto fall into the
temptation of accepting unprepared students just
to fill empty seats in the classrooms and empty beds
in the dorms.
"When you plan on conducting major changes,
you have to prepare for a time of transition, which is
usually the first two years of the process, in orderto
see results," Gray said.
The toughened academic standards will not
mean cuts in athletics, according to Gray, since
many athletes are excellent students. "You are not
a student or an athlete at the school," Gray said.
"You’re a student-athlete, just as the name states."
On the topic of finances. Gray denied the rumor
that Wesleyan was in dire straits when he took on
the role as president, noting that he researched
the school’s situation before he accepted the job.
He admitted that the school has been caught in a
negative cycle, going slightly down hill, but over all
Gray judged the situation to be stable. Wesleyan’s
potential was clearto him, but the school was
under-performing and in great need of changes, he
"Any small liberal arts school would be
challenging to run, especially in these times of
recession," the president said. "We’re all working
with limited resources."
Speaking in October, the president sa[d there is a
shortfall of about $200,000 thathas to be'covered in
the budget, which is already tight. But Gray pointed
outthatthe gap is only about 1% of the total budget
of $23 million. He believes it’s manageable.
To cope with the economic situation. Gray
said, the college has taken steps such as offering
early retirement for faculty and staff that meet
certain length-of-tenure criteria. This is standard
procedure when dealing with a tight budget, the
"To be in financial trouble means that we
would cut down on faculty or borrow money from
somewhere else, which we are far from doing at this
time," Gray emphasized. "I know schools that have
a much bigger gap than us to cover."
President Gray has made it clear that he was
readyto give Wesleyan ten years of his time - as
long as the board of trustees and the faculty and
students appreciate his work atthe school. He said
he hopes to retire from a proud and wealthy college
at 71 years of age.
One year has already been checked off the list.
By setting up new priorities, he has put many of his
plans into action. Gray said he was surprised by the
amount of work his position demanded of him, with
all the differentfacets of a college that require his
"I was surprised by my personal intensity to
accomplish these goals," he said. "The days and
nights are longer than I expected. The rewards are
immense, so I am not complaining."
After he assumed his position in summer 2009,
Gray wanted to make sure that students, staff and
faculty would see some immediate changes. Early
in his tenure he directed the upgrading of poorly
working Wi-Fi in the dorms and began a renovations
program for residence hall bathrooms. Gray wanted
the Wesleyan community to notice the changes in
orderto raise school pride and establish a trust for
Gray raised $200,000 in the beginning of the first
semesterto pay forthe early improvements. He said
that $1.2 million was raised during the 2009-2010
academic year, and the goal is to top that amount
this year while increasing the annual fund drive,
On a related matter. Gray was asked whether
he’d be willing to share with students details from
the operating budget, the college’s expenditures
in particular. He said students have not expressed
such interest to him. "I would be glad to give
students a summary of the budget if they seek
to understand it and not just complain about this
and that expenditure," the president said. "It’s a
Some $50,000 was invested in the dorms over
the summer, and Gray said the plan is to renovate
one ortwo bathrooms each year "until they are all
new and fresh."
Besides the bathrooms and other improvements
to the residence halls. Gray would like to enhance
landscaping on the college’s 200-acre campus.
Some students have questioned the emphasis on
landscaping when they feel thatthe priority should
be refurbishing the bathrooms and improving the
food served in the cafeteria.
But Gray disagreed and underscored the
importance of landscaping. He said an attractive
campus helps to strengthen school pride.
"Landscaping is so important, not only to make
the students we already have here enjoy their
surroundings, butalso in orderto give a great first
impression to prospective students," he said.
The president mentioned that five big trees in
front of Braswell were cut down before starting
the academic year. "Now when students roll in to
campus with their cars, the first thing they see is
the fountain and the main building and the flag, and
it looks absolutely beautiful."
According to Gray, future plans include building
a football stadium, expected to hold about2000
spectators; constructing another dorm with suites
for upperclassmen: and creating more green
spaces. The president would like to see "a town
square" in place of the parking lot behind Braswell.
"A school that doesn't look good will not create
any school pride," Graysaid. "I don't know how
much money we have spent on landscaping so
far, but it's not enough. We need to do much more
to make this a beautiful campus. It pays huge
dividends in student attitudes, admissions, alumni,
and fundraising," said Gray.
Further plans are to make Wesleyan Village, the
apartments behind Food Lion, part of campus. Gray
hopes Wesleyan Village will bring the international
students who now live off campus closer to the
school. "It would make it easier for them to be
involved even aftertheir classes and practices are
done forthe day," Gray explained.
To fund such projects, enhance academics, and
increase the endowment. Gray has announced a
$25 million capital campaign, setto begin in about
a year. Helping to spearhead that effort will be
Chris Norman, who was hired over the summer as
the new vice presidentfor advancement. Norman
joined Wesleyan after serving as director of the
Wittenberg University Fund since 2007.
"This is probably the biggest reason thatthey
chose me forthe position, not as an academic role
model leading the school—that's not whatthe
school needs in its present state—but as a fund
raiser and a’communicator."
Being in-tune with student concerns was a top
priority when Gray was inaugurated. He explained
In Tourney CNU Avenges Only Loss
By Kevin Quicker
Decree Staff Writer
Bulletin: After two wins In the USA
South Tourney, the Bishops lost In the title
game, 3-1, to CNU last Saturday. With the
win, the Captains earn an automatic bid to
The NC Wesleyan men's soccerteam pulled off
one of the great upsets in team history by beating
the number 1 nationally ranked team, USA South
rival Christopher Newport University, in a hard-
fought game, by a score of 3-2, on October 13.
Prior to this game, CNU was one of the few
remaining undefeated teams in the country at 12-0
and had conceded only four goals in 12 games.
The decisive goal came on an amazing cross
from Owen White, on the right side of the field, to
Mark Wielitzka who put the ball past the goalkeeper
in the closing minutes.
CNU opened the scoring in the first half. After
a tightly played first 20 minutes of the game, when
both teams passed the ball a lot looking for holes in
the defense, CNU broke through in the 29th minute,
scoring off a header on a free kick past goalkeeper
White had mixed feelings after the Bishops fell
behind. "Last year there was no way we would
come back from a deficit like this," he said. "We
would have put our heads down and gone on to lose.
So it was going to be interesting to see how this
year's team would reactto the adversity early in the
Wielitzka was feeling positive after going down
early. "I felt as if we were playing well up to that
point and we had the ability to get back into the
The game remained 1-0 as it reached halftime.
But this lead did not last long. Just 10 minutes
into the second half, Wielitzka, tied for the goal-
scoring lead in the USA South with 11, scored off
a brilliant cross from White on the right side of
the field, the shot deflecting off one of the CNU
defenders. The crowd erupted and fans began to
that he loves to eat lunch with students in the
cafeteria, asking them about "breaking news," on
campus or in their classes.
VVhile he likes the diversity among the student
body. Gray acknowledged that it often produces a
diversity of opinions when it comes to identifying
the most pressing needs of the college. To gather
information on community concerns, he plans
on conducting surveys amongst both faculty and
students every year.
"It’s of course easierto communicate with
faculty and staff than students since I work directly
with the employees," Gray said, "but I'm very
interested in hearing whatthe students have to say.
I have an open-door policy and any one can come
see me whenever they want."
The president believes there is great potential
for Wesleyan to transform itself into a bigger
and better college. He said that he is even more
passionate about his job than he was when he
started last year.
"I said from the start that no one would outwork
me," he said, noting that he's at his desk early in the
morning. "I usually surprise the maintenance staff
coming in to the office. And I leave as late as 1 have
to in orderto get things done. A leader can talk all
he wants to convince his staff that he is devoted,
but what it really comes down to is putting as much
time into the work as it may demand. They didn't
hire me to make good, but to make great."
^Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ Reviews - Page 4
Melissa Ricketts and Joshua Rogers played Maggie and Brick
in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' Photo by r. Drake
Wesleyan Experiences a Biking Boom
By Leila Heinonen
Decree Staff Writer
It is a Monday afternoon, the sun is shining, and
bike racks are jammed with purple, red, and blue
bicycles waiting for students. A group of football
players is biking to the practice field. I can also
see Coach Modise heading to the tennis courts by
bike. NCWC is filled with many bicycles, creating a
great new atmosphere on the well-manicured green
The lasttwo semesters students have increased
the usage of bikes tor transportation to and from
campus. International students started the biking
boom lastfall semester, mostly because they
couldn't afford to buy a car and they needed to get
to school from their off-campus apartments. Atthe
same time dorm residents started to use bikes to
get around faster.
Many NCWC faculty and staff members and
students agreed that biking is good foryour health
and the environment as well.
Biking is common in Europe, especially in big
cities where it is difficultto find parking places
for cars. Sophomore Kristin Seidel from Germany
was one of the first ones who used a bike to move
around in Rocky Mount. "I had to buy a bike because
I couldn't afford to buy a car," she explained. "I'm
used to biking back home in Germany a lot, and
that's why I didn't feel like it's that big of a deal to
bike a couple miles to school and back."
Other international students, such as Marcelo
Prata and Evgeniy Bukatin, bike to school orto
tennis practice at least fourtimes a week. "I bike to
school because I don't own a car and I don't wantto
bother people who have cars. I think it's a fast and
easy way to get to the campus," explained Bukatin.
Some dorm residents have decided to buy bikes
justto make it easierto move around campus. One
of them is Junior Dominic Fordsdike. "Campus is a
big area to get around, especially living on the outer
edge," he said. "I use the bike from class to class, to
the field house, practice, cafeteria, and also to local
places outside of campus." Clifton Lesak agrees
with Fordsdike: "Bikes are a very useful way to get
around, especially if your classes are in different
buildings around campus."
Ratherthan driving to practice, many Wesleyan
football players like B.G. Howell ride a bike. "I'm
using my bike mostly to goto practice because
there are not that many places to park a car after
they cut our field," Howell explained, referring to
the state highvvay widening-project.
One of the more prominent cycling enthusiasts
is President Gray, who uses a bike to move to and
from his office and to different school activities
such as basketball games. "It's more convenient to
use a bike ratherthan a car and I enjoy it-it'sfun,"
Some students and coaches bike to school to
get daily exercise. Dominic Modise, head tennis
see BIKING pg 4
hope thatthey would witness history.
Just 15 minutes later the Bishops were able to
go up 2-1 when Irvin Herrera played a ball to John
Mendy, who was streaking down the left side of
the field. One-on-one with the goalie, Mendy faked
a shot to putthe keeper on the ground, before he
went around the goalie and deposited the ball in the
back of the net.
The crowd was even louder than the first time
because they knew their team was only 20 minutes
away from beating the number-1 team in the
But a goal in the 82nd minute from CNU
dampened the mood at Scalf Field, tying the game
at 2-2. The game looked as if it was headed to
"After they tied it with just three minutes left, I
thought I was going to be very difficult for us to win
in regulation or overtime with the momentum they
had," said White. Wielitzka said he had the same
Justfour minutes after being shocked by CNU's
late score, a through ball was played to White, who
then connected on a cross to Wielitzka, who put a
one-time shot past the CNU goalkeeper in the 87th
minute of the game.
"This was one of the better feelings I have
experienced as a player," said Wielitzka. "When I
saw the ball hit the net, I knew we had won it."
CNU did not have enough time to record the
equalizer; giving the Bishops a 3-2 victory.
Not only did this win draw national attention
but it also gave the Bishops sole possession of first
Following the CNU victory the Bishops went on
to beat Ferrum, 4-0, with two goals coming from
They were also able to squeeze past Methodist
3-2 because of a timely overtime goal from senior
midfielder Javier Castrillo.
The Bishops then tied AverettO-0 in a game,
which put everything on the line forthem when
the team played the Shenandoah Hornets. But the
Bishops had no trouble handing the Hornets a 5-0
beating which clinched a regular season title forthe