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Vice Presidents with a Vision

trustees tour campus

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeff Frick and Vice President of Business and Finance Jim Irwin help steer W&J toward a bright future with new strategic plan

Spring is bringing changes to campus that give Presidents a lot to be excited about.

With two leadership positions filled in Summer 2019 and a strategic plan approved in Fall 2019, the College is positioned to move into 2020 with momentum.

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Jeffery Frick, Ph.D., and Vice President of Business and Finance and CFO Jim Irwin, CPA, came to W&J because of the promise they saw in an institution with a rich history and a bright future.

Even before they officially assumed their positions, these leaders engaged with the culture of W&J, jumping directly into the strategic planning process already in progress.

“I had the opportunity to interact with people from the campus in a more significant way before I arrived on campus because I was involved in the planning process early on,” Frick said.

Both men come to the College from institutions far from Pennsylvania, with Frick hailing from the Midwest and Irwin coming from California. What attracted them to W&J was a campus community that cares about student success and is eager to explore institutional innovation.

“I was impressed by a faculty and staff who are very dedicated to the institution and have a real interest in thinking about how we can advance the College for the good of our students,” Frick said. “There are many institutions which are not interested in changing to meet the needs of changing demographics and changing times. I feel like at W&J there’s a true readiness for that change.”

In particular, the strong vision for W&J’s future is exciting for the new VPs.

“The vision statement appeals to me because although W&J is an institution with a rich tradition it also has its eye on the future,” Irwin said.

Summer renovations of three Presidents Row residence halls, the revamping of Henry Memorial Center with the upgraded Salvitti Family Gymnasium and Eaton Fitness Center, and the addition of an amphitheater outside of the Technology Center meant that Irwin joined a team with many capital projects well underway. He was able to see the projects through to completion while managing timelines and budgets and being involved in the weekly construction meetings.

“The President and Board of Trustees are committed to meeting the needs of current and prospective students. The capital projects completed over the summer provided the opportunity to significantly invest in campus facilities,” Irwin said. “The W&J community watched the transformation and now appreciate the vibrant campus. There’s excitement in the air based on what we have accomplished.”

Irwin’s job is to make sure this vision comes to life, and he’s ready to do so by contributing his expertise across the areas of facilities, budgeting, and college processes. The VP of Business and Finance brings a wide range of experience to his role, including time spent working directly with students as an adjunct business faculty member at the University of La Verne.

“I am really glad to be back at a liberal arts undergraduate college. I can sense the excitement with the students on campus, and it’s a wonderful vibe to be around,” Irwin said.

Frick has been fully steeped in the culture of liberal arts undergraduate colleges since his time as an undergraduate student, and he knows today’s students are looking for more.

“I really like being at a place that values the liberal arts foundation along with career preparation. If you look at what employers say they want, they want what a liberal arts education provides,” Frick said.

Those skills include effective communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership, and Frick is committed to working with faculty through the shared governance procedures to enhance the curriculum and co-curriculum so students come away with a consistent experience across disciplines. A survey completed by the Art & Science Group, LLC, as part of the strategic planning process highlighted key factors important to today’s students that will inform changes to the curriculum.

“We didn’t get a recommendation from the Art & Science Group to do something completely different than we are doing. We’re really able to build on our strengths,” Frick said.

Keeping these strengths in mind will ensure the College’s dedication to its core values as it adapts to the changes and challenges of today’s higher education environment. With administrators like Irwin and Frick in place, future generations of students will continue the tradition of alumni pride in W&J.

Irwin was the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration at Claremont Graduate University before coming to W&J. He previously worked at the University of La Verne, LA Fitness International, LLC, and KPMG. Irwin holds a Master of Science in Leadership and Management from the University of La Verne, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The University of California, Riverside, and is a licensed CPA.

Frick was most recently at St. Norbert College as Dean of the College and Academic Vice President and previously held leadership roles at Illinois Wesleyan University. Frick holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Loyola University Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Augustana College.