MARLBORO >> After six months as the president of Marlboro College, Kevin Quigley says he's not surprised with what has been thrown his way.
"I anticipated that it would be challenging, engaging, fulfilling, and all of those expectations have been met," said Quigley.
Since his inauguration on Sept. 13, 2015, he has settled in to Vermont and used his international and leadership experiences to further benefit Marlboro College, an intentionally small, liberal-arts college that was founded in 1946.
"A major challenge for Marlboro, like many other liberal-arts colleges, especially New England with modest endowment, is the issue surrounding enrollment," said Quigley.
He further explained that the school's enrollment numbers are the lowest they have been in many years. Quigley added that the trustees and board have responded to this issue with the Renaissance Scholars Program. The program will provide one tuition-free college experience for a student from each state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"This scholarship is designed to strengthen our college community, to not only bring excellent students, but students who are engaged in their communities wherever they are. And they understand the value and importance of community engagement and service and how that builds the skills and experiences and absolutes around citizenship," said Quigley.
According to Quigley, the board increased its spending rule to provide extra resources to kick-start this program.
"For the kind of college that we want to create, we want to attract students from other places and more diverse backgrounds and actually our aspiration is that this program will bring in many more international students," said Quigley. This year the college is focused on recruiting from the 52 states and then next year it will look to increase the number of international students that come to Marlboro College. These applications are due on Jan. 15, and according to Quigley, so far there are five students who are positive for next school year, which he notes is a modest increase from last year's two students that confirmed at this time of year.
"I want to be clear that my trustees and I are really confident in the plans that we've developed," he said. "We're optimistic for the future and we believe that we have an enormous opportunity to take this renaissance to this truly unique place in the landscape of American higher education."
Some of the recruiting methods plastered on apparel and literature for the Renaissance Scholars Program states, "Looking for a few rugged intellectuals." Quigley further stated that this refers to the students that are independent and that blaze their own trail.
Aside from program adjustments, as president of the college, Quigley has also found alignment with places, people and purposes in Vermont.
"What's really different about Vermont — and I am new to Vermont — is the importance of community, the centrality of community and the importance of participation. Those are really distinctive in our values and practices that I really do appreciate," said Quigley.
This Renaissance program is not the only item on Quigley's agenda; he also is looking at strengthening ties between the undergraduate school and Marlboro College Graduate School located in Brattleboro. He also hopes to stay true to Marlboro College's values and help the students integrate themselves in the community at a local and global level.
In addition, he finds that his work with building the values of democratic cultures is applicable to his work at Marlboro College in terms of policy making. He's had the privilege to run three different non-governmental organizations that involved administrative and leadership skills. Those skills have helped him with his role as president where he deals with marketing, working with boards or different divergent communities, clarifying the organization's goals, supporting the mission and then celebrating the process.
"When I think of the last six months, there are a few things that are really important; we've launched this renaissance program that has engendered a renaissance across the whole college and that is creating new opportunities for us," said Quigley.
Quigley has not only aided program direction and decisions but he also says he has enjoyed his time spent among the faculty, staff and students. He notes that he has especially enjoyed this time of the year because of the student performances. Quigley wants students to feel that he is approachable and says that many may find him traversing the college's walking trails or at the student coffee shop on campus.
"Students know that I walk from the old farm house to campus, and I think you can ask them, but I'm approachable," said Quigley.
Quigley has degrees from Swarthmore College, the National University of Ireland, Columbia University and Georgetown University. He has taught at 12 liberal arts colleges as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, serving as a faculty practitioner with a focus on international studies and nonprofit management. He used his international development experience in his role as director of public policy at the Pew Charitable Trusts and this prompted his writing of the book "For Democracy's Sake: Foundations and Democracy Assistance in Central Europe."
He is passionate about other cultures and has become fluent in over 30 languages. This interest has been further demonstrated when he was the Peace Corps country director in Thailand as well as president and CEO of the National Peace Corps Association, a global alumni organization for the more than 200,000 former Peace Corps staff and volunteers. While in Thailand, Quigley was ordained as a Buddhist monk.