For those of us whose leanings are toward gentler disciplines such as literature and philosophy, a quick perusal of Warren Wilson College President Steve Solnick’s curriculum vitae might invite a touch of academic intimidation.Read the full article
A bachelor’s degree in physics from M.I.T. A bachelor’s in politics and economics from Oxford University. A doctorate in political science from Harvard University. Marshall Scholar. Fulbright-Hays Fellow. Resident of the world, from Great Britain to Moscow to New Delhi.
But then you learn that Solnick has an abiding passion for fried pickle chips at Pack’s Tavern, is an exuberant fan at Asheville Tourists baseball games, has an affinity for TV programming ranging from infomercials to “Downton Abbey,” and only recently learned that there is more than one kind of tree in nature.
In short, Solnick is a regular guy, a husband and father of three who favors jeans over neckties, laughs heartily at his own foibles, loves hanging out with students and rarely if ever utters terms such as “vector quantity,” “modulus of rigidity” or “electromagnetic induction.”
Since becoming Warren Wilson’s seventh president last July, Solnick has cheerfully navigated the most recent learning curve that has followed a journey from a childhood in his parents’ New Jersey candy store to his stellar academic achievements to a decade abroad running programs for the Ford Foundation to his landing on the small, bucolic college campus in the Swannanoa Valley.
When he is formally inaugurated into the presidency during a ceremony Saturday, Solnick will be celebrated by a college community that has quickly embraced his wit, intellect, gifts for listening and engaging, and passion for leading Warren Wilson forward in innovative and inclusive ways.
“Steve is just like fresh air — I admire everything about him,” said Maggie Mae Farthing, a junior outdoor recreation and education major from Pittsburgh, who has worked closely with Solnick as a co-convener of the Student Caucus.
“He has this way of — he’s very honest and open, and he understands that there are other people who need to have voices,” Farthing said. “We’ve got a lot of big things coming up on the horizon, and I feel like his leadership style is about talking and listening to people and figuring out how we can get there in the best way possible,” she said. “I’m so excited about the future.”
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