Written by Haley Fahrner and Kevin Dunne. Media by Jessica Sturgeon.
It has been decades since the British invasion brought over the Mods, Rolling Stones, James Bond films, and some band called The Who. The wave of British culture even managed to find its way to Greenville College, albeit a tad late, in the form of Dr. Ivan Filby. It was announced on March 4th by the Board of Trustees that Dr. Filby was elected as the 12th president of the college. President Filby acted as chair of the Management Department from 2005 until 2012 before accepting the role as president.
On Sunday, the 4th, an open house was held in Joy House, where faculty members could mingle and chat with the new president. Dr. Filby and his wife Kathie were greeting people as they entered, and before I (Haley) even stepped in the house, I was met with a hug from Dr. Filby. While I (Kevin) was the only male in the house that wasn’t wearing a suit, the event was very relaxed and informal. The food that was served by the Sodexo workers was divine. Never have I (Kevin) tasted such glorious desserts or heavenly quiches. I (Haley) ate no fewer than five stuffed mushrooms. As we mingled with the attendees, we were introduced to Beckie Smith, Chair of the Board of Trustees, who said, “I am excited and optimistic to have Ivan Filby serve as president. He’s a creative thinker and a joyful person.” Smith was not the only one who was overjoyed to have Filby serve as president. Christina Smerick, chair of the Philosophy and Religion department, said, “I had the privilege of working with him when he was faculty moderator, and I am delighted he has returned to campus. And I wasn’t going to let Kathie move anyway.”
President Filby was kind enough to take a break from shaking hands and chatting with friends to answer a few questions for us.
When asked to describe Greenville College in one word, he replied, “Community!”
We also asked Dr. Filby what changes he envisions for the college, and his reply was exciting. There are a few things he would like to do, subject to college and board approval, of course. First, he said that he would much like to continue the ongoing discussion about university status, and said, “We need to ask the question ‘How can we best fulfill our mission?’ and I believe we may be able to do this more effectively as a university. This is, of course, not something to be rushed into, but something we must prayerfully consider in the light of the calling that God has placed on Greenville College.”
He also expressed that he would really like to start the year with a campus-wide tie of prayer. Lastly, he expressed that he has a desire to integrate some of the majors offered at GC, and eventually gain more national prominence. “One reason that I am delighted to be back at Greenville College is because I have missed some of our cutting edge majors. One initiative I would like to discuss is to more closely integrate areas such as sports management, music business, digital media, media promotions and contemporary commercial music into an institute so that we can become better known nationally.”
Next, we asked Dr. Filby why he wanted to be president in the first place. He replied that he had no intentions of applying, but a lot of people called and requested that he did. Ultimately, he chose to because of the wonderful faculty, great student body, and loyal alumni at the college. He said particularly that while he was in California, he really missed the creativity of our students here and campus community. He referenced the Blackroom, marching band, and choir, among other creative student endeavors, as aspects of student culture he appreciated.
Of course, we had to ask some serious, hard-hitting questions as well. We next asked which aspect of British Culture he planned to bring to GC. He enthusiastically replied that cricket should be integrated into campus sports, as well as the HPR activity classes. When we asked him what his favorite British sketch-comedy show is, it was (of course) Monty Python, with his favorite sketches being the Dead Parrot sketch and the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, and his favourite Python being John Cleese.
We closed our interview by asking what his first act as president will be. He reiterated his desire to begin the year with campus-wide prayer convocation, where we could invite the local community, local churches, faculty, staff and students to worship and pray around our campus. He stated, “We fulfill God’s calling on our college community to the extent that we seek Him in prayer, and are transformed in our worship encounters.”
Kathie Filby, wife of President Filby and professor of Spanish at the college, also took a moment to answer a few questions for the Papyrus. Some of her answers will sit well with the Dr. Who fans on campus.
Papyrus: Are you excited to stay in Greenville?
First Lady Filby: Absolutely, I am over the moon with excitement!
Papyrus: What are you planning on wearing to the coronation?
F.L Filby: Oh, I was thinking about wearing some of the crown jewels, some diamonds and pearls. I was also thinking about stepping out of the TARDIS, accompanied by some Daleks. That would really be nice.
Papyrus: Are you still planning on teaching?
F.L Filby: No, I feel as if I were to teach, I wouldn’t do either job well. This is a joint venture between my husband and me, so I want to be available to the entire school. We want to serve in any way we can and don’t want to be treated or approached any differently than before.
Across campus, students and faculty have already responded warmly to the Filbys. Facebook posts and tweets expressed this joy. In general, excitement is in the air, and we anticipate positive changes.
(Kevin and I look forward to finals being changed to N.E.W.T.s and O.W.Ls, as well as Flake bars being added to the selection of candy in the union. We also can’t wait for high tea and chimney sweeps to characterize the campus. This might be a little optimistic, though.) Cheerio!