Students, faculty reflect on Perry’s presidency

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

0211_-DEN-_JH_9859Jason Howell

President Bill Perry announced earlier this academic year that he would step down as Eastern’s president after serving eight years. Perry is the eleventh president in Eastern’s history, and during his tenure, he has created many moments, with faculty, staff and students.

For instance, Perry has attended all eight of the Prowl with the Prez, gone to football games, and even helped students move into the residence halls on move-in day.

Dan Nadler, the vice president for student affairs, said Perry has such excellent interpersonal skills, which includes remembering the names of students.

“Dr. Perry is a very student-centered president,” Nadler said. “He cares deeply about people, especially students including their academic, personal, and professional development.”


Nadler said Perry’s skillsets made him stand out as a president.

“This combination of skills allows individuals to feel valued and appreciated,” Nadler said. “President Perry deeply appreciated excellence through teamwork. He acknowledges hard work and publically recognizes individuals and groups for having done excellent work.”

Ryan Brown, a junior accounting major, remembers when he first met President Perry at “Pictures with the Prez.”

“When I first met President Perry, I was shocked at how tall he was,” Brown said. “I started to talk to him and realized how genuinely nice he was. He’s very easy to talk to and gives off a good vibe.”

Blair Lord, the vice president for academic affairs, recalled back when Perry first started as Eastern’s president.

“President Perry has served Eastern during a period when we had a first, and very successful, comprehensive capital,” Lord said. “The institution has documented many academic accomplishments as presented in the NCA Self-Study establishing that Eastern has become an even stronger institution than upon his arrival.”

Lord also said while this was a campus-wide effort, all of the success occurred under Perry’s watch.

“I would note his deep commitment and engagement with our students,” Lord said. “He is highly regarded by our students because of this.”

Looking at Perry’s presidency as a whole, Lord said he feels like Perry’s accomplishments as president say more than enough about his tenure at Eastern.

“He has been an energetic and effective advocate for Eastern, its faculty and its students, to Eastern’s many constituencies,” Lord said.

Lord also said working with Perry has not only made his own work enjoyable, but the work of his colleagues as well. Lord’s fondest memory from working with Perry was a recent one.

“The memory I am going to offer has to do with the recent legislative budget hearing where President Perry concluded his testimony by offering the story of his father’s path to an education following his time in the military service,” Lord said. “He used this as an opportunity to remind the legislators that our country has a long and noble history of publicly supporting education extending from the Land Grant Act, through the development of the normal school movement to prepare school teachers, to the GI Bill which aided his father, to more recent investments in student assistance like Pell Grants.”

Lord said Perry’s point was simple, shining a light on how public investments helped the country’s development and how disinvestment in higher education is the wrong thing to do.

“This virtually took the air out of the room,” Lord said. “It was so poignant.”

Nadler said Perry was instrumental in establishing relationships with different constituencies, which resulted in record levels of involvement and support from both friends and alumni, which was a result from Perry’s Comprehensive Campaign.

Nadler also said Perry also helped establish more community service for Eastern students while they are on campus.

“President Perry was instrumental in establishing a service oriented environment, one which challenges students to become actively engaged in performing service in Charleston, the state, the region, the country, and the world,” Nadler said. “It would not have been possible to establish the Office of Student Community Service without President Perry’s unwavering support.”

Perry was also important in establishing the Textbook Rental Service Facility, which provides cost-saving services to Eastern students. Perry was also influential in helping open up Doudna, the Energy Center and CINCERE, an increase in undergraduate student research, and the university received the best national ranking in Eastern’s history.

Nadler’s fondest memory from his time with Perry comes from the interactions they both have had with students.

“President Perry always embraces interacting with students with excitement and passion,” Nadler said. “We have had many opportunities together to help students move into the residence halls, work side by side with students performing community service, and congratulating students when attaining outstanding academic, co-curricular, and personal achievements.”

Paul McCann, the vice president for business affairs, said Perry has done such an amazing job serving as president.

“I’ve been very proud to serve under him,” McCann said. “He’s done an amazing job, I think some of the things that I admire most about him are his ability to communicate, all the way from upper administration to the students and to the community.”

McCann also said Perry does an amazing job with speaking with different legislators and telling Eastern’s tory in the most honest ay possible.

McCann favorite moment with Perry was when Perry was unable to recognized McCann’s daughter when she attended Eastern.

“She met Dr. Perry and throughout her whole career her, he remembered her name and called her by name when he’d see her on campus,” McCann said. “That was very important to me as well as to her, to see that a president to time out to remember her and to communicate with her when he did see her.”

Perry said he will value the relationships he made with faculty, staff and students most.

“I’ll take away with me all the memories of move in day, commencement, interacting with the students at the football games,” Perry said. “What I’ll be taking away really is the relationships with people, with students, faculty, and staff.”

Perry also said he will remember interacting with students in the different activities on campus.

“After 44 years of serving in higher education, I’ve always believed that the relationships are the most important thing that you built,” Perry said. “No matter what you do, it’s the relationships you built within the university community that are just so important and so valuable.”

During the eight years as Eastern’s president, Perry said his biggest accomplishment was making sure Eastern’s quality education continues to grow.

“What I’ve always thought of is what can this university do,” Perry said. “The thing that means the most to me is that the quality of the academic programs has continued to grow.”

Perry said it was an overall effort by the university, and when he sees Eastern’s ranking improve, he is happy with how Eastern is progressing.

“That means something to me, and I think it should mean something to everybody,” Perry said. “ We’ve got dedicated people here and when we pass the torch on to the next group, that they are going to raise, and my hope is that Dr. Glassman will have an even bigger impact after me.”


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]