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Dunlop's style is perfect fit for Shepherd

April 21, 2001

Dunlop's style is perfect fit for Shepherd



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Six years ago, the campus at Shepherd College was divided "right down the middle" following a reslution of no-confidence in former president Michael P. Riccards.

The vote came after Riccards and faculty members frequently clashed over issues such as fee increases, salaries and administrative cuts. Teachers complained that Riccards displayed anger and disrespect toward faculty members, and a member of the school's board of advisors said he was worried how the controversy was affecting the image of the college.

Today, the atmosphere at the college has made a turnaround.

Teachers and the student body president praise school President David L. Dunlop for his leadership. They say Dunlop is sensitive to issues facing them, weighs issues carefully before making a decision, is perceptive about the needs of the college and listens to input from faculty and students.

"You couldn't work for a better guy," said Peter Checkovich, provost of Shepherd's Community and Technical College, who is working with Dunlop to move the community college to Martinsburg, W.Va.

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James McNeel, the student body president, said there have been "incredible changes" at the school under Dunlop, including a $15 million expansion and renovation of the school's library. Dunlop has also been a supporter of the arts at the school, which McNeel believes is an area the school needs to focus on.

McNeel said he and Dunlop do not always agree on issues, "but he's never heady. We always agree to disagree."

Dunlop, who was an administrator at the University of Pittsburgh before coming to Shepherd, said college officials were looking for a president who would be receptive to input from students, faculty and other employees. Dunlop said that was his style of management long before coming to Shepherd.

"I didn't develop that style for the position. For me, it's just natural," Dunlop said in an interview last week.

On Thursday, the first four-year evaluation of Dunlop will be conducted at the college.

Every year, the chancellor of the state college system evaluates the college president. Every four years, a broader evaluation is conducted.

John H. Keiser, president of Southwest Missouri State University; Joseph Cox, chancellor of the Oregon University System; and Joseph Powell, a member of the West Virginia Higher Education Interim Governing Board, will make up the team evaluating Dunlop's work.

The team will meet with heads of academic departments, classified staff, students, the executive staff, faculty members, the board of advisors and other groups as part of the process.

When the evaluation is completed, Dunlop said, the team will give him a verbal report on their findings.

Dunlop is content with the progress made in the last four years.

Assets of the Shepherd College Foundation have increased from $4.5 million to about $15 million. The minority student population has increased 92 percent. The college is preparing to offer graduate courses for the first time this summer. Fiber optic cable has been extended to the west campus to link it with the main campus.

Technology has been a priority for Dunlop.

Dormitory rooms have been wired for Internet access and growing number of classes have a computer component, said Dunlop. When he came to Shepherd, a handful of classes used computers as part of their instruction. Today, about 80 use computers.

"We've made tremendous strides for what we have done in technology," Dunlop said.

Dunlop works to make sure he doesn't become isolated from the faculty and students.

Every other week, he has lunch with two or three students to hear their concerns.

"I call it my two-martini lunch, minus the martinis," Dunlop said.

The meetings have produced proposals on how to improve pedestrian safety on campus and the placing of kiosks on campus to help students and visitors find their way around.

"Maybe we're big enough now that we need some of these," Dunlop said.

The college's growth has received a lot of attention this year.

The college has been working for more than a year to move the school's Community and Technical College to the former Blue Ridge Outlet center in Martinsburg. Dunlop and others have been leading the effort despite hurdles over funding and concerns over the site selection process.

Although Shepherd still needs about $200,000 from the West Virginia Legislature to fund the school move, some classes are being taught in the former outlet center and more courses are scheduled there this fall, Dunlop said.

Dunlop is not sure what the school will do if the Legislature does not come up with the $200,000.

"That would put us in a real pinch," said Dunlop, adding that the school would have to hope for a larger-than-usual enrollment increase next year to pay for the school move.

Shepherd began considering moving its community college to Martinsburg after local business owners and economic development experts said they needed a school in rapidly growing Berkeley County to offer job training skills.

Dunlop envisions offering tailor-made courses to fit the needs of businesses. The offerings could range from a one-hour seminar on telephone etiquette to Microsoft certification, Dunlop said.

One of the reasons the Alliance Aircraft Corp. recently picked Berkeley County to build a jet plant was because of the job training the New Hampshire company could take advantage of through the community college, Dunlop said.

"That's the contribution we can make to economic development," he said.

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