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Meet the President: Randy Helm

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2003

Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 17:07

After the identity of the new President of the College was revealed to the College Community on Mar. 24, President Elect Randy Helm contributed a more detailed look at himself and his ideas for the College once taking office.Helm spoke encouragingly of the College and its fine reputation that has been built up over the years. He stated that there are clearly numerous strengths that the College has that sets it apart from other colleges like itself. "The strengths are clearly the faculty and their dedication to teaching, the strong sense of community among the students and the incredible dedication of the staff," stated Helm. He went on to say that the College's "admirable track record in admissions and enrollment retention are doubtless related to these strengths."

Helm stated that among the things he feels need improvement at the College, the most important to him is the endowment situation, which needs immediate attention. Building the endowment of the College so that it is "less dependent on tuition revenue would seem to be the biggest need for improvement," said Helm.

He further stated that aside from finishing the Pride and Progress Campaign, he would like to see "more emphasis on marketing endowed chairs and endowed financial aid to the College's prospective donors." Helm also noted that he would like to see that "we work together on some strategic planning."

When asked what attracted him to the College, Helm responded, "it felt right from the first moment I got acquainted with Muhlenberg." He went on to say, "it felt more and more right the more I learned and the more people I met."

Helm explained that the decision to leave Colby College was not an easy decision to reach. "Deciding to leave Colby was difficult because Colby is, in many ways, similar to Muhlenberg... and not just because both colleges have the Mule as their mascot," Helm went on to say.

According to Helm, leaving Colby now is as good a time as ever. Helm stated, "This is a good time to leave, as our youngest son will be going to college this fall, leaving us with an empty nest." He stated that the transition will not be completely foreign since he and his wife previously lived in Philadelphia while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. "We still have a lot of friends in Pennsylvania," said Helm.

Aside from his youngest son, Alec, of seventeen, who will be leaving for either Trinity College or Vassar College next fall, Helm also has another son, Burt, who is twenty and a junior at Yale, who according to Helm, is "toying with the idea of a career in journalism."

When asked about his take on the recent complaints made by students of the College about the lack of social life on campus, Helm explained that in his experience, complaints about the social life on campus are not just limited to this campus. He noted that at Colby, "students complain about social life too." He went on to say, "come to think of it, so did Penn students when we were there. Not that I think there's any connection between the Helms' presence and lousy social life," remarked Helm humorously

In The Weekly's previous article on Helm that was published on Mar. 27, Helm stated that he wished to "bring the campus life closer to the intellectual life of the campus."

Upon elaborating on that comment, Helm said that in his experience, "students make less of a distinction between the intellectual life that goes on in the classroom and their lives in the residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses."

Helm wishes to involve learning that is done in the classroom with experiences in the residence halls. To integrate the two worlds while at Colby, he and his wife played an active role in the residence hall life of the students.

Helm said that as "non-residential faculty associates of various residence halls, we've had book discussions, film discussions, and other types of conversations with students both in the residence halls and in our home."

Helm noted that these are among the different ideas that have been thrown around in the past. "I suspect there are many more ideas that Muhlenberg students and faculty will have that will be appropriate to Muhlenberg," commented Helm.

On the subject of improving the closeness of the College Community, Helm explained that "the sense of community is already pretty strong at Muhlenberg," however, "we mustn't be complacent." Helm said, "I'd like to hear student ideas on this subject and get to know the place better before I commit myself to anything more specific.

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