Photo: studio portrait of Pres. Mark Anarumo

NORWICH RECORD | Summer 2022

H.G. Wells famously wrote in 1945 one of my favorite quotes: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”

Wells was of course the author of many classics, including The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. Many are unaware these works were produced in the late 1890s; Wells was clearly a visionary and a futurist in addition to a master storyteller. In fact, he predicted and wrote about the advent of tanks, aircraft, nuclear weapons, space travel, television, satellite communications, and what we now know as the internet. He was well ahead of his time in every way and a passionate believer that those incapable of adaptation would be left behind and, in some cases, not survive in a world of rapid change.

We have seen these concepts written about in all fields: From biology to business to military sciences, the key to survival is adaptation. In nature, it is often not the largest, strongest, fastest, or even the most intelligent that thrive. Instead, nature tends to favor that which can best adapt and evolve in response to environment and circumstances. Failure to adapt leads to extinction.

This same concept can be applied to organizations. Businesses that do not respond with agility to changing markets and customer expectations do not survive. The field of higher education is no different; institutions that allow themselves to stagnate will fail in serving their students and alumni and will slip into irrelevance quickly. We must ensure this does not happen at Norwich.

Over our long and storied history, Norwich has experienced periods of growth … and periods of contraction. Fortunately, our academic offerings have evolved to meet the demands of our nation to ensure our students graduate as “moral, patriotic, and useful” citizens. Norwich has done very well since our creation, especially through the past generation of learners. But we must not be satisfied. We must recognize status quo as the enemy of greatness.

To achieve this greatness, we are taking steps to bring more agility and adaptability to our Norwich institutional culture. We are moving quickly to make up for time lost during the multiple crises of the past two years. Although we emerged from the COVID pandemic stronger than we entered, we had to offer stability during a very disruptive time and thus slowed some change initiatives. While we remain steadfast in our commitment to increase agility and adaptability, we must make changes thoughtfully.

We are quickly recovering from that lost time and are making great progress. Subsets of our university are completing restructures to ensure future relevance and higher levels of performance. Our strategic partnerships are expanding significantly, both internationally and domestically. Perhaps most critically, we are working through the completion of the new strategic plan, which will provide the framework for our operations over the next five years. The plan will enter the execution phase in October 2022 and incorporates input from faculty, staff, and students across the residential campus; our entire online learning community; alumni from all years; and, of course, our Board of Trustees.

The new strategic plan will prioritize enhanced student success, removal of obstacles to internal collaboration, creation of relevant and future-focused programming, improved fiscal stewardship, and the establishment of Norwich as The National Leadership University. The plan will ensure Norwich will not only survive, but thrive, in the face of rapid change and fierce competition in higher education.

Of course, the people who make up our university community are the ones who will make the plan come to life. Our talented faculty and staff are fiercely devoted to Norwich and are ready for the challenge. Of course, we must acknowledge that we are all building on the amazing work and service of our predecessors. Norwich was incredibly fortunate to have a highly effective leadership team in place consistently for multiple decades. This team left us a gift we must not squander. We will honor their great work by using it as the platform from which to launch Norwich into the next era of greatness.

The new leadership team is in place and ready to launch. To ensure success and become a more efficient organization, we recently began operations under a four “principal deputy” model. There is still a Presidential Cabinet with very high performing leaders serving critical roles, but we want them leading their teams toward excellence and innovation and not sitting in meetings or buried in administrivia. The four principal deputies will ensure our university moves forward with agility and refinement and will enable the rest of the cabinet. Please allow me to introduce you to the four amazing leaders filling these roles.

First, we are incredibly fortunate to have received my new “second in command,” Karen Gaines, PhD, an extraordinary scientist and administrator, as our new Provost and Dean of the Faculty. Karen comes to us from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and is already working hard to ensure that a Norwich education is relevant not just now, but well into the future. Karen also brings a wide network of relationships that we will leverage to create new opportunities at Norwich.

The third-ranking officer in our university is our new Commandant and Vice President of Student Affairs William McCollough ’91, Colonel USMC (Ret.). Bill is not only a highly decorated Marine combat officer with broad experience overseas and here at home, but a distinguished Norwich alum. I heard loud and clear the desire of our alumni to have a Norwich graduate in the Commandant position, and in Bill McCollough we have found the perfect leader at the perfect time for Norwich. In Bill we have hired an alum who knows how to lead and how to foster a collaborative environment. To ensure the entire student community has an elevated experience, Bill will oversee not just the Corps of Cadets but also students in our civilian lifestyle. We are so excited to welcome Bill back to The Hill; please trust me when I say he is ready to go!

We are also very pleased to welcome our new Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, Danielle Pelczarski, a distinguished 30-year Naval Reserve Captain and logis¬tics officer (now retired), who comes to us from the California State University Maritime Academy, where she served as the deputy commandant. Danielle is also a seasoned marketing and communications executive and co-founder and chief operating officer of an e-commerce startup. She has three decades of executive-level experience in brand management and corporate communications, leveraging brands such as BP, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Delta Air Lines, Nike, Speedo, Coors, Apple, Microsoft, and FedEx. We are all very excited to welcome Danielle to Norwich, where she will leverage her impressive skills not just in marketing and communications, but also as my right hand as we modernize our business practices and improve collaboration across our university.

Finally, the fourth principal deputy is another distinguished Norwich alum, Martin Hanifin ’86, who joined us last year as our new Vice President of Administration and Finance. Marty was his class valedictorian at Norwich and went on to earn both an MPA and a law degree from the University of Virginia. An Army veteran, Marty served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and has extensive experience in higher education. He will help ensure that Norwich’s exceptional financial position is preserved and improved despite today’s challenging landscape in higher education.

These leaders, and the other members of the President’s Cabinet, are working hard every day to ensure Norwich University is the place we all know it can and should be. We will be fiercely dedicated to student success, will ensure our financial position is durable, and will plant our flag as The National Leadership University. To achieve these goals, we will leverage the things that have always made Norwich exceptional and use that foundation to propel us forward into our next era of greatness.

We will celebrate our past, both recent and from across our over 200 years of existence. But we will not be satisfied. We will fight the status quo, and we will adapt. We will evolve to ensure Norwich and our graduates will be there when our country and the world need us, as we have since our founding. Our alumni demand that level of dedication and effort. And our students certainly deserve it. So we will always be…

Norwich Together, Norwich Forever!

Mark Anarumo, PhD
Maj Gen (VSM)
Norwich University

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