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May 10, 2024

Seeking Guilford's Why

The “Guilford Why” project was designed, in part, to help the College better communicate its value to potential students and philanthropic supporters. Here's some of our findings.

Friends, As I moved through my first two years as President, I’ve been exploring – along with other stakeholders – questions about what matters most to our community and how we define who we are and what we are truly about.

Last fall, a task group of faculty and staff led by a specialist in marketing, innovation and social change, asked our community to share their thoughts about our identity and values to better understand what makes us unique and relevant and to identify our aspirations and hopes for the future. This process of introspection and engagement is pivotal as we seek to sustain the College in a world that needs much of what we have to offer.

We undertook the “Guilford Why” project to help us re-energize our community with a shared sense of purpose and impact and to help us better communicate our value to potential students and philanthropic supporters. Through a series of polls and in-person sessions with faculty, staff, students and other key stakeholders, our task group collected data that is being synthesized to shape a narrative that will enhance our communications, which is a priority of our strategic plan, Envisioning Guilford 2027.

The findings, reported by our task group and summarized below, were consistent and positive across all stakeholder groups:

Unapologetically liberal arts: Guilford offers a rich tapestry of experiences. It is a place characterized by diversity, community, peace and the opportunity for new and enriching encounters. We want our students to become independent, critical and creative thinkers. We want them to become more aware, intentional and empowered. We want them to develop the tools to critically assess social formations and imaginaries and cultivate the capability and commitment to build a better life and a more beautiful world.

Deep values rooted in Quaker principles: Guilford upholds a set of core values rooted in Quaker testimonies. The College encourages students to grow within a close-knit community where people care about each other. The community is dedicated to fostering diversity and equity in education, creating a welcoming and loving atmosphere. Students support each other, leaning on one another for success, and learn to be responsible and considerate.

A transformative learning environment: The academic environment at Guilford is marked by several key factors. Professors are held in high regard for their dedication and expertise, while students benefit from a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. Personal relationships between students, faculty and staff are fostered, enabling individual attention and access to essential resources. Academic programs offer opportunities for growth and development, often in small classes conducive to learning. We want our students to leave with relationships and opportunities that will help them expand their selves and professional careers. We want them to find their passion here, and be transformed by their education. In short, we want our students to become the best versions of themselves, and to use their talents and gifts to make the world a better place.

Community is at the heart of the Guilford experience: Guilford is known for its caring people who exhibit kindness and create an environment of inclusion and belonging. The sense of community is further enhanced by the diversity of its members, including those who enjoy being around individuals from various backgrounds. The college promotes kinship, forging close connections between students and faculty. Additionally, the staff's genuine investment in the wellbeing of students contributes to the creation of a safe and accepting space where meaningful interactions thrive.

A campus environment that embodies wellbeing: Guilford's open and inclusive campus engenders peace, wellbeing, and connection. It is a place that nurtures mind, body and spirit. The physical environment of the campus is serene and beautiful, with picturesque woods and a natural setting that provides a sense of tranquility.

Investing in people – financially and emotionally: Guilford desires to provide for a diverse student body, including those who would not otherwise be able to access a quality education. It offers resources and support systems that include a community of advisors who provide personal assistance. It nurtures leadership through scholars programs and campus and community engagement opportunities. Clubs, sports and other activities contribute to a vibrant campus life, and the principle of mutual aid underscores the spirit of collaboration and caring within the community.

Our college is in a strong position to claim and enhance the attributes that make it exceptional. An alumnus who serves on our Board of Trustees has said, “Guilford changes your life and equips you with the skills to change the world.” Through various channels, we will spread this key message and others far and wide.

Kyle Farmbry, J.D., Ph.D.