By JESSE SUTTON
On July 1, Perry Rettig assumed the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at Piedmont College, a role previously held by President James Mellichamp.
Rettig has served various types of students since his career began in 1984, starting with teaching fourth and fifth grade students in the Green Bay, Wis. area.
Following becoming a principal and then professor, he was named the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2005.
Due to Mellichamp’s transition to PC’s president, the college initiated a national search for a new Vice President of Academic Affairs.
“I was really intrigued by the position and put my name out there for the interview,” Rettig said.
The Navigator interviewed
Rettig regarding his position and his experiences so far at Piedmont College.
How did you become interested in the educational field?
I have been in education my entire career. When I was in high school, I didn’t know what major I wanted. I knew I wanted to study psychology, journalism or education. I loved working with kids. Psychology was just so interesting to me. But I thought, I am going to have to work on all these advanced degrees and I don’t want to do that… I realized I kept being drawn back into education.
Why did you decide to join Piedmontʼs faculty?
I’ve worked mostly in public institutions. What I liked about Piedmont was its close community feel… Here, you get to know the students on a first name basis and know what their majors are. It’s really exciting to me. It’s really hard to move a large institution forward with the internal bureaucracy of it. But here, we are allowed to be so much more nimble and quick to adjust to the needs that we have- both internal and external. And, the biggest reason is our excellent liberal arts heritage here. I truly believe to my core in the value of a liberal arts degree. We are able to do so many things for our students if they can take advantage of what we have.
What have you enjoyed about the college so far?
I feel very comfortable in small communities where you can make a difference. When I say that, I don’t mean just the staff and faculty, I’m also talking about with the students. People know each other. They care for one another. That’s just really special to me. One thing that’s very interesting in a smaller campus is how people wear multiple hats. In a larger institution, you are a person who does this and that’s your only job. But in smaller institutions, you’re doing this, this and this and you are teaching a class. It’s just a very busy schedule for people and I don’t know how they can do it, but they are dedicated.
What are some goals you hope to accomplish during your time at Piedmont? [I want to continue] with [general education] reform… We need to look at the big picture. What are we expecting now? While we’ve been adding on, each piece by itself makes sense but not together. This is a chance for us to recalibrate and see what we want out of this program for the students. Along with that, inclusive and exclusive, is the whole idea of assessment. What are we expecting students to learn, not only in [general education] but in all of our programs? How are we going to measure that? And then also, how do we use that information to make change?
I think we are doing all of those things but not necessarily in a coherent [way] or in a pattern of working together on it. Each unit is doing it individually, and we want to pull it together for a whole, complete picture.