As of Aug. 21, 2017, Elizabeth Paul began her second academic year as the 16th president of Capital University. She made the move to campus on July 1, 2016 and was officially inaugurated on April 21, 2017. During her first year, she has completed a multitude of important tasks with the goal of creating a memorable atmosphere around Capital.
“My big goal for the first year was to feel and then help others feel what is really special and important about Capital University,” Paul said.
Paul said that she wanted to create “buzz” about Capital, both on campus and off, in Columbus, and even nationally in the higher education community.
“I wanted people to start getting a sense that there is something important happening here,” Paul said.
Between the merger with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, building a new leadership team, and the campus emphasis on “purpose,” there truly are a lot of things happening here.
In addition to creating a “buzz” about Capital and emphasizing its meaning, another of Paul’s goals for her first year was to build a new leadership team. Many positions on campus have been filled in the past year, including the new director of information technology, vice president of strategic enrollment management, provost, and vice president of integrated marketing and communications.
When Bill Mea, the new vice president for business and finance, begins on Oct. 16, Paul’s leadership team will be complete.
Paul has also had several campus-wide conversations about what the purpose of Capital is, what role it plays in the world, and what the world would miss if it did not exist.
“An institution like ours, with some of the values that we have,” said Paul, “sometimes I think we’re a little too humble and we’re worried about seeming boastful.”
Paul, though, does not consider it to be boastful. She believes we have an obligation to share our mission with the world.
“The purpose of Capital is purpose. A purposeful life is a powerful life, and a life of meaning is […] one that can do good in our world.”
Looking forward, Paul has some big plans and goals for this fall semester and the future.
The merger with the Trinity Lutheran Seminary is headed towards a Jan. 1 changeover date. One of Paul’s goals is to have a dean for the seminary in place by then, with candidates beginning to come to the campus soon. Paul also mentioned the future possibility of having dual degrees with the seminary for students who want to study theology as well as other subjects.
There are still legal, financial, accreditation, and infrastructure issues that need to be dealt with, but Paul said that the merger is on track for the Jan. 1 date.
Paul also wants to begin looking at opening up the current graduate programs that Capital offers to better utilize the “dynamic city” in which we live.
Additionally, she plans to rethink alumni engagement.
Paul wants to look at “[…] more contemporary ways that [Capital] can be engaging with [its] alumni from all different ages [and] helping them to continue to feel the energy that is Capital and to be part of Capital’s life and success.”
One of her aims that she began when she started is to further the practice of inclusion on campus. She wants to push Capital’s community to be and to act more tolerant and accepting, with an overarching goal to be a learning place for “how we as humans work harder to be inclusive.”
“Capital has an ability to act inclusively in ways that we find really hard to do in society, so we can use this context to individually … have a safe place [to be able to have a conversation],” Paul said.
The biggest plan for the fall, however, is the strategic and master planning process.
Strategic planning will focus on an approach to moving forward as a campus and advancing our mission to make Capital a strong institution into the future. Like a “motivator, a source of energy,” Paul said.
“Strategy is way to act, to do something, that will help advance the institution,” Paul said.
The master planning process, happening hand-in-hand with the strategic planning, will focus on the physical space at Capital, such as possible renovations to academic and residence buildings.
During September and October, the Master Planning Steering Committee will explore the needs of campus and the options that the new master plan can provide. From November to February, the committee will create the final master plan. The Chimes will report more on this process as it develops.
Overall, Paul’s numerous accomplishments can be reflected in the ongoing changes on campus and in students’ attitudes and achievements.
“It was a wonderful year,” Paul said. “It was a very special time of getting to know Capital University and the depth of [the institution]. You don’t really get to know a community until you come here and experience it. It’s been [great] to feel this community and to peel it back layer by layer and understand what’s here, and what’s here is incredibly powerful.”