On February 23, the Guilford College Board of Trustees announced that James W. “Jim” Hood, would serve as interim president effective immediately. Hood replaces interim president Carol A. Moore. Moore was hired as interim president on August 1, 2020, and was originally scheduled to stay on through June 2021.
Hood graduated from Guilford in 1979 and has taught English at the school since 1999. He will serve as interim president until a permanent president is hired. Hood is not an applicant for the permanent president position.
The announcement of Hood as the new interim president was widely praised by faculty, staff, and alumni who had opposed Moore and the plan she introduced in November to cut programs and faculty. (A decision to rescind those cuts was made by the college in January.)
“Jim Hood’s appointment to interim president is a huge step in a more healthy direction for Guilford,” said C. Wess Daniels, Guilford’s director of Friends Center and Quaker studies. “Jim is a trusted member of our community, committed to living out the Quaker tradition through his commitments and practices, a deep and empathetic listener, and he honors the richness of our students, staff, and faculty.”
Maria Rosales, clerk of the Guilford faculty, reported that the Clerk’s Committee wrote a statement of appreciation to the Board of Trustees, “thanking them for the hard work they have done to shift the Guilford story to one of creative and collaborative problem solving, in line with the best of the Quaker tradition.”
Save Guilford College, a group of alumni supporters formed in the wake of the announced program cuts last fall, shared in a March 3 statement: “Save Guilford College is deeply grateful to the Guilford College Board of Trustees not only for their leadership in appointing Jim Hood to this role but also for recognizing that we, as a community, can find a sustainable path forward.”
The school still faces serious financial challenges. About $1.8-1.9 million will need to be cut from the academic affairs budget, which is primarily made up of faculty salaries. Six million dollars will need to be raised: $2 million by March 31, $2 million by May 31, and the final $2 million by January 31, 2022. But the cuts to faculty will be made on a voluntary basis, and progress is being made on the ambitious fundraising goals. The Guilford Forward Fund has raised $1.5 million, and Save Guilford College has raised an additional $181,000 as of early March.
Currently a member of Friendship Meeting in Greensboro, N.C., Hood has long been connected to the Religious Society of Friends. His wife, Sara Beth Terrell, is a graduate of Earlham School of Religion and a recorded Friends minister. He served as an assistant to Friends United Meeting’s executive secretary in Richmond, Ind., from 1981 to 1984. He commented on what makes Guilford a distinctly Quaker school for him: “our commitment to Quaker-inspired pedagogy, Quaker-inspired decision making processes, and diversity in terms of students of color as well as students from less privileged backgrounds.”