Winter 2020 / Features

Dreaming of “La Boheme” in Central Mexico

By Coleen Dee Berry

Yunuet Laguna, a soprano, received the gift of a coffee mug emblazoned with Met Opera from a student who had just returned from visiting New York City. “The Met was amazing!” the student told her. “I hope you can go there for a visit someday.”

Laguna, who had just completed studying opera at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música of Mexico, wanted to do more than visit New York’s renowned Metropolitan Opera House. She dreamed of singing there. But, “I didn’t have enough money to even apply to get a visa,” she said. “So, I thought this coffee mug was probably the closest I was going to get to the Met.”

That was before she met Joan Max Mitchell ’63.

Yunuet Laguna performs in January 2019.

In July 2018, Laguna sang at an Instituto de Bel Canto opera concert in the Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende, where Mitchell had been residing since 2012. Ever a champion of the arts, Mitchell was now the director of the Mexico District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was in the midst of organizing the district’s first audition of young Mexican singers. After hearing Laguna sing, she knew she had to persuade Laguna to try out for the Met audition. “I approached her right after the concert about it,” Mitchell said. Laguna, who was unaware that the Met was auditioning singers in Mexico, needed little persuasion— she signed up immediately. “This was a great opportunity. It was what I had been dreaming about,” she said.

Joan Max Mitchell ’63, left, with Octavio Rivas.

Laguna took first place in that audition, then went on to win second place in the National Council regional competition held in New Orleans. In 2019, she was selected by the Met for the company’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, becoming the first Mexican woman to enter the program. The 25-year-old is continuing her professional studies in New York City. By summer 2020, she is scheduled to sing the role of Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme for the Metropolitan Opera at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia.

“The moment I met Joan, my life changed,” Laguna said. “She’s like my fairy godmother. She helped make my dream come true.”

Mitchell’s relocation to San Miguel de Allende is a story in and of itself. She and her husband, Dan, were living in semi-retirement in Chambersburg, where she was volunteering for the Franklin County leadership program run by the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. Her task was to identify young professionals and develop them into community leaders. When she sought program candidates from the area’s growing Hispanic community, she was unsuccessful. “I decided that if I spoke their language, maybe I would be able to do better,” she said.

Denis Velez, Laguna, Ambassador Christopher Landau, Gamaliel Reynoso and Efrain Corralejo after a performance for the new ambassador in August 2019.

A friend recommended the Spanish language schools in San Miguel de Allende— a town the Mitchells had never heard of. “My husband and I came to San Miguel de Allende for one month in 2008 [to take Spanish lessons],” Mitchell said. “In 2009, we came for two months. In 2010, we bought an apartment, still thinking we would be here only seasonally. In 2012, we sold almost everything we owned in the U.S.A. and moved here permanently. [It was] not an entirely rational decision, but I somehow knew that San Miguel was where I belonged.”

Mitchell, an opera lover since the age of 10 when a “doting uncle” began taking her to performances, soon found her niche volunteering for local music organizations in San Miguel de Allende, which has been home to opera productions since the 1870s. She worked as a logistics coordinator for a summer music festival and helped place members of opera casts and crews with host families for ProMusica San Miguel de Allende. Later she became a fundraising consultant for the San Miguel Instituto de Bel Canto, an intensive month-long workshop for young Mexican opera singers. Mitchell’s involvement in music reached a turning point in 2014 when she and Dan hosted a 27-year old opera tenor, Octavio Rivas, a finalist in the Opera San Miguel Concurso—a privately funded national competition for Mexican opera singers held each year in San Miguel de Allende. “He was the one who transformed me from opera spectator to opera activist,” Mitchell said. Rivas had received little support from his family in pursuing an opera career. “He was my wake-up call, the beginning of my determination to do whatever I could to prevent genuinely talented young Mexican singers from being denied the opportunity to fulfill their talent,” she wrote.

Jennifer Velasco, Gamaliel Reynoso and Jacinta

Through Rivas, Mitchell met Michael Sylvester, who had co-founded the San Miguel Instituto de Bel Canto after retiring from a 25-year career as a tenor soloist at the Met. Sylvester knew that the Met had been looking for a Mexican audition site for the past two decades but hadn’t succeeded. In 2017, Sylvester convinced Met officials to try San Miguel de Allende as an audition site for young singers and then asked Mitchell to become the director of the new program. “So I didn’t really choose the job—it chose me,” Mitchell said. “I had declined invitations by other music organizations here. I was in San Miguel to retire! I needed my husband’s blessing to take this on. He said, ‘You need to do this … and I will help you.’ ”

In order to set up and pay for the auditions, Mitchell needed to raise an initial $30,000—she exceeded that amount by $5,000. She put together a nine-member team drawn from U.S. expatriate and Mexican residents of San Miguel. “It was important to establish a true partnership with our Mexican counterparts. In the Mexican culture, family and church come first; philanthropy isn’t always a priority,” she said. “It was important to get them invested in the future of these young singers.”

Mitchell’s career in the United States had prepared her well for the job. After she graduated from Wilson with a bachelor’s degree in French, she received graduate degrees in French, education and information science from Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh. She taught at Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities and the St. Edumund’s Academy in Pittsburgh. Then she served 17 years as a university library administrator before turning to fundraising at Georgetown University, where she was director of development for student affairs. After seven years there, she became the vice president for university advancement at Marymount University of Virginia, retiring in 1999.

Efrain Corralejo performs in January 2019.

Mitchell came out of retirement in 2001 to become Wilson’s vice president for advancement at the request of then-college President Lorna Edmundson. “I retired for good in 2003,” Mitchell joked. She began working in a volunteer capacity on nonprofit fundraising projects, including Chambersburg’s drive to restore the historic Capitol Theatre.

Mitchell points to her Wilson education as the bedrock for her success. “The important thing we learned at Wilson was that we could do anything we put our minds to,” she said. “I’ve taken on a lot of challenges and when I take on a challenge, it succeeds. I credit Wilson for giving me that confidence.”

So thanks to her efforts, the Met held its first auditions in San Miguel on Nov. 8, 2018, attracting 34 singers from all across Mexico. After that success, Mitchell was named president of the newly formed San Miguel MetOpera Trust. The program’s second audition, held in November 2019, attracted 40 more singers.

Mitchell’s work with the young singers doesn’t end with the auditions. She helps them with their next level of regional competition, securing visas and making travel and lodging arrangements. She has made excellent contacts with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to help with obtaining visas. The current American ambassador, Christopher Landau, and his staff are frequent guests at concerts hosted by the San Miguel MetOpera Trust.

Mitchell has been invaluable in recruiting singers in Mexico, according to Met Executive Director of National Council Auditions Melissa Wegner. “We are a volunteer-driven organization, so the Met’s National Council truly could not do this without volunteers like Joan,” said Wegner. “Joan worked tirelessly to start the Mexico District and set the foundation for its lasting success. She is so committed to providing a pathway to career success for these talented singers and personally helps see that their needs are met whenever possible. This is above and beyond the mandate of our organization, but speaks to Joan’s persistence and passion.” Mitchell believes it’s important for young Mexican singers to get exposure by singing in venues outside of their own country. “I think for Americans, getting to hear and see a Mexican opera singer may be a very different experience from what their expectations are for most Mexican immigrants,” she said. “Opera is not something that currently has a wide popular appeal in America, but I’m hoping these singers find an audience.”

“Joan is with you every step of the way,” said 26-year-old Efrain Corralejo, a tenor and one of the three finalists from San Miguel’s first audition. “She has even helped find me coaching assistance.” When Corralejo was traveling in the U.S. auditioning for parts, “my husband and I personally underwrote an hour with a coach in New York City and two more hours with the same coach when he was in Mexico City” to prepare him for Met auditions, Mitchell said. “I like to think it made a difference.”

Corralejo began his singing career in the children’s church choir in his hometown of Leon. When he was 8 years old, his cousin gave him a recording of a Three Tenors concert, which included the late Luciano Pavarotti’s signature aria, “Nessun Dorma.” “That inspired my dream to become an opera singer,” he said.

Since the San Miguel audition, Corralejo has sung concerts in Pueblo, Colo., Pittsburgh and Detroit, and he has recently been accepted in the master’s program at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. “After the [Met] audition, I started thinking and training not as just a national singer, but as an international opera singer,” he said. “I want to be a solid tenor performing in the opera centers of the world. Thanks to Joan, I am seeing my dream for the future come true.”

The Metropolitan Opera Auditions

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions program seeks to discover promising young opera singers and assist them in their career development. The all-volunteer program, which began in 1954 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, holds annual auditions every year in 42 districts and 12 regions throughout the United States, Canada and now Mexico.

The competition is open to singers between the ages of 20 and 30 and is held in four stages: district, regional, semi-final and final competitions. Each stage is judged by a panel of representatives from the Metropolitan Opera. Winners from the 42 district competitions compete in regionals, and then the winners travel to New York City, where they compete in the national semi-finals on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

Approximately 10 semi-finalists are chosen for the final competition at the Met. The five top winners are awarded a grand prize of $15,000 each, and the remaining finalists receive $5,000. Some well-known opera stars who have been finalists have included Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Samuel Ramey, Renée Fleming and Michael Fabiano.

San Miguel de Allende

For the better part of five centuries, San Miguel de Allende flourished— first as an outpost for the Mexican silver mining industry; then as a textile and agricultural center and, in more recent times, as an artists colony, tourist attraction and retirement community.

Located about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende was founded in 1542 as a mission by Franciscan monk Juan de San Miguel, for whom the city is named. The discovery of silver in the area in the mid-1500s turned San Miguel into a thriving commercial center. By the early 1700s, it had a population of close to 30,000 (more than New York City at the time) and its combination of neoclassical and baroque architecture reflected the city’s wealth and prestige.

Two early leaders of the Mexican War of Independence, Juan Aldama and Ignacio Allende, were born in the city. In 1810, both helped form an insurgent army and made San Miguel the first Mexican town to gain its independence from Spain. The city added Allende to its name after he died in the war.

The city was a cultural center early on, and in 1873 a concert hall opened with a performance by the most prominent opera soprano of Mexico at that time, Angela Peralta, who subsequently lent her name to the Angela Peralta Theater. But by the early 20th century, the area had been decimated by an influenza pandemic and many of the city’s buildings fell vacant. In 1937, American artist and writer Stirling Dickinson arrived in San Miguel de Allende. Together with Peruvian intellectual, author and painter Felipe Cossio del Pomar, Dickinson established the Escuela Universitaria Bellas Artes art school, which still exists today. In the 1940s, Dickinson helped Cossio del Pomar establish what became the Instituto Allende art school. Despite the rural location, both schools found success after World War II, when they attracted U.S. veterans studying under the G.I. Bill, which permitted study abroad. Enrollment at the schools rose and the town’s cultural reputation attracted tourists.

More artists and writers settled in the city, including José Chávez Morado and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who both taught painting at Bellas Artes. Many of the American veterans who studied in San Miguel would later come back to retire.

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A Portrait of the President as a Young Man

By Darrach Dolan

Wesley R. Fugate, Wilson’s 20th president, is wearing a blue, lightly checkered suit, a pristine white shirt with cufflinks and a bowtie with Wilson blue and gray stripes. Even his socks are a blue and gray that are reasonably close to the college colors.

From left, Les Fugate, the twins’ great-aunt Laura Begley, Wes Fugate
and their mother Jackie.

A man of average build, Fugate speaks with a Southern inflection that is at once charming and assertive. His smile is slightly crooked and, like his accent, authentic and disarming. His eyes are a cerulean blue and intense, even piercing, yet the laugh lines framing them crinkle with genuine warmth and sincerity. He is both formal and casual, presidential and friendly, erudite and down to earth.

Again and again in interviews, his colleagues, mentors, family and friends all describe him as a man capable of embodying two or more apparently contradictory qualities at once and making them work. He can see the forest AND the trees is how his brother, Les Fugate, and his colleagues from Randolph College, Terry Bodine and Heidi Kunz, put it. Perhaps Laura Hamilton, a close friend who also worked with him when he was on the board of the education nonprofit Beacon of Hope, sums it up best: “Wes is a dichotomy—he’s this extraordinary mix of a kind and gentle soul and a real go-getter, a new thinker and a great respecter of tradition, energetic and measured. Wes is a special guy.”

It is January, the weather unseasonably warm, and Fugate is moving into his new office on the third floor of Edgar Hall. Fugate’s rise to president of a college has been earned through hard work and ability—he was a deputy chief of staff to a governor by age 25, a vice president at a college by 33 and a college president six months short of this 40th birthday.

When asked about his Wilson-colors bowtie, he laughs pleasantly. He grew up in Kentucky, where bowties, thanks to the famous Kentucky Derby, are not as unusual as they might be in the rest of the country. Nonetheless, he chose to embrace the tie as a means of communication, of branding, of showing who you are and who you represent. On the simplest level, the bowtie sets him apart and as such is an easy conversation starter with almost any audience. On another level, the specific bowtie sends a specific message—in this case it’s a straightforward message announcing his support for Wilson, but he has bowties for all occasions, several custom-made. He believes his role as president is to be the College’s chief cheerleader and storyteller, and wearing the appropriate bowtie can be one small part of that role. His intention is, no matter where he goes, to always wear or have something that visibly represents the College on him, whether it be a bowtie or the lapel pin he had designed featuring Wilson’s “W” or even the Phoenix sweatpants or shirt he wears to the gym. He is going to be proudly Wilson 24/7, 365 days a year and 366 days on leap years. He smiles at his joke but there is no doubt he would bleed Wilson colors if it were possible.

Wes and Les Fugate after a performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Fugate is quiet for a moment, thinking about how he would like to introduce himself to our magazine’s readers. He says people should know that he is one half of a pair of identical twins and that may explain why he has always been a people person—he has always had and wants to have companionship on his journey. Wesley and Leslie Fugate, Wes and Les as they prefer to be called, were born in a rural corner of Kentucky where the state meets Tennessee and Virginia. Their father was a coal miner who worked for the same mining company his whole life until retirement. Their mother was a beautician until she chose to stay at home full time to look after the twins. According to Fugate, he and his brother were a handful—he recalls how at age 6 or 7 they got it into their heads to redecorate the house with mud pies. They plastered the exterior and the ceiling of the carport with mud. It took their mother hours to undo the damage. However, apart from that incident, neither brother remembers getting into much trouble at home or in school. Les Fugate says that even if they were high energy and rambunctious, they were mostly “straight-laced” and “goody-two-shoes” through their childhood.

When the boys were 9, their father was transferred to a different mine and the family moved to Prestonburg, Ky. It proved a difficult move for the twins, who were treated as outsiders from the moment they arrived. Les describes the small town as the sort of place where everybody knew everybody else going back generations, and even if you came from only 20 miles down the road you were considered foreign. Although they had each other, they were socially isolated until they auditioned for and were accepted into the Jenny Wiley Theatre— a professional theater troupe that put on outdoor plays during the summer months. Their first parts were in Gypsy in 1991 and, in their words, they “grew up in the theater.” Over the following years, they participated in every aspect of the theater’s life, from playing roles on stage to running the concession and gift shop and managing the front of the house.

From left, Les Fugate, Susie Roush, Centre
College President John Roush and Wes Fugate.

After they left for college, they joined the board of the theater and after college they remained “at large” board members until the theater closed in 2018. Les says the theater provided them the outlet and freedom to grow into the outgoing and extroverted men they are today. President Fugate credits the experience with fostering his lifelong love of musicals, as well as his comfort with large audiences and ability to perform under pressure.

At the same time their lives on stage were taking off, the brothers played in the school band and particularly enjoyed singing in the choir. Fugate, who loves to sing harmonies, describes their choir teacher, Elizabeth Frazier, as his inspiration. When the twins were accepted into the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, which takes Kentucky’s top high school students and hosts them on college campuses for weeks during the summer, they got to invite a teacher who had inspired them to visit. Naturally, Wes Fugate invited Frazier. One goal of the program is to expose high school students to the benefits of higher education. For the two boys from a very small, country town, this experience—combined with Frazier’s and other teachers’ belief in them—cemented their dreams of being the first generation in their family to go to college.

Important as Frazier was as a mentor, she also personifies what relationships mean to Wilson’s new president and how he cherishes and nourishes friendships, regardless of time or distance. When Frazier became ill with cancer during the twins’ senior year of high school, Wes helped run the choir while she was receiving treatment. When the brothers were in college, Frazier’s sister informed them that she was receiving hospice care in Lexington, Ky. Knowing it would be their last visit with their old friend, they drove there on New Year’s Eve 1999. They set up a TV in her room, wore party hats, threw confetti and blew blowers and together celebrated as Sydney, Australia, rang in the new millenium 16 hours ahead of the U.S. She passed peacefully days later, a picture of the Fugate brothers and another student on her nightstand.

The president is proud to have gotten that final chance to visit with a woman who meant so much to him. To this day, he carries a photo of her in his wallet, and when he and his husband, Cody Ward, moved into Sharpe House at Wilson, one of the first things he did was find a place to display a hand bell Frazier had bequeathed him.

Cody Ward and Wes Fugate at a UGA football game.

Ward describes Fugate as being more sentimental than he lets on—he keeps the concert and movie stubs, theater programs and airline tickets from their dates and vacations in a small bag in their bedroom.

“Wes has extraordinarily deep relationships with people,” Les says. When they were co-house managers of the arts center in college, “We joked that he hired people, and I fired people.” Les explains that they have quite different leadership styles—he is more skeptical but he admires his brother’s belief in people and how he works to get the best out of them. “Wes starts from a position of trust with everyone, and that’s a high-caliber thing for a leader to do. If you make honest mistakes, that’s fine with him. But if you break the trust, then he’ll take decisive action.”

President Fugate’s former colleagues corroborate this—he leads by bringing people with him rather than simply directing or making demands of them. Barbara Sandoval, chair of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education, credits Fugate’s people skills with making a conference they organized the most successful in NAPAHE history. “Wes is very creative, he understands human nature, knows what makes people tick, and he loves connecting with people.” She adds, “He has ridiculous energy, and it’s infectious. He’s the best person I’ve ever worked with.”

After graduating high school, the twins went to Centre College in Kentucky, a “very pure liberal arts college” in Fugate’s words, and “by far the best decision I ever made.” With no family experience of college to guide him, he thought that going to college meant you became either a doctor or a lawyer. Centre College changed his understanding of what higher education could offer and “transformed” him as a person.

Fugate remembers one particular turning point when a world of possibilities he hadn’t imagined opened up before him. He was seeking advice from his adviser and science professor, Keith Dunn, after he had admitted that science was not his passion and was unsure what he should pursue. Dunn told him not to worry. The beauty of a liberal arts education was that it would teach him to think creatively and live and work honorably, and he’d find his own path. For Fugate, this advice was magical and liberating, and confirmed for him the life-changing potential of the liberal arts. He chose to double major in dramatic arts and economics because he was passionate about both subjects. Les, never far away, majored in economics and minored in dramatic arts. Fugate says that his belief in the transformative power of a liberal arts education informs everything he does and will do as president of Wilson.


Wes Fugate receives the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from Centre College.

From the moment they arrived at Centre, the brothers threw themselves into the life of the college, joined multiple student organizations, produced and directed theatrical shows, worked as campus tour guides and even operated the phones during phone-a-thons. Wes became president of the student government and his fraternity at the same time. He believes campus life outside of the classroom is a crucial part of the college experience and wants Wilson students to have more opportunities to participate in social and athletics activities, and grow as people.

Fugate had another profound and career-determining encounter at Centre College. One day, college president John Roush took him aside and asked him if he’d ever considered a career in higher education. Fugate assumed he was talking about being on the faculty and responded that while he loved academia, he didn’t think he loved one subject enough to spend the rest of his life at it.

Roush shook his head and said that wasn’t what he’d meant. He asked if he’d ever considered becoming a college president. Fugate was flabbergasted. He had never imagined such a possibility, yet when presented with the idea, he was excited. Roush told him it wouldn’t be an easy path, but if he wanted to pursue it seriously, he might want to first work as a chief of staff because in that position, you learn all aspects of a college. “I left Centre thinking I want to be a chief of staff to a president of a college,” Fugate remembers.

It is a testament to Fugate’s drive and determination that he would succeed. “By the age of 20, he wanted to be a college president and every decision he’s made both personally and professionally since then has been in the service of that dream,” Bodine says. Bradley W. Bateman, the president of Randolph College where Fugate served as his chief of staff before becoming the dean of students, characterizes his ambition another way: “Wes is a particular kind of American character who came from a humble background and was transformed by his liberal arts education. He really wants to do this work for the right reasons; he wants to see other young people have lives transformed by liberal arts education.”

Les Fugate, who also considered becoming a college president, knew his brother would succeed once he had set his mind on it. “The worst thing you can tell Wes is that he can’t do something because he’s very driven. People told him he would never be a college president. I laughed at them because I knew then that he would.” He says his brother chose this career because, in addition to the love for the liberal arts they both share, Wes enjoys being around students and wants to make their college experience as wonderful as his own was. He warns the Wilson community to be prepared for the energy his brother will bring to his presidency. “He’ll be at athletics events, lectures, symposiums and everything on campus and people will ask how is it possible that he’s at all these things.”

The brothers graduated college, then worked together for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program and, while working there, got master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University. They had worked together their entire lives until Les took a position as a deputy assistant to the Kentucky secretary of state. They were separated workwise for less than a year when Wes Fugate took an entrylevel position for Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher. The brothers once again worked in the same building.

Although Wes Fugate rose quickly through the ranks at the governor’s office, he applied to the University of Georgia to pursue a doctorate in higher education administration and was accepted. When Fletcher heard he was leaving, he asked him to stay on at least through his next election campaign. Fugate agreed on condition he be appointed deputy chief of staff and given the higher education portfolio. In this new position, he traveled the country and world at the governor’s side, met the CEO of Toyota and the Queen of England, and was in the Kentucky Derby winners’ circle many times.

When Fletcher failed to get re-elected, Fugate took the opportunity to get a doctorate at UGA. “I can’t say I loved politics, but I loved feeling I was making a difference,” Fugate says. Unwilling to accumulate more student debt, Fugate took a full-time job overseeing the fraternities at the university to pay for his tuition. Almost overnight, he went from deputy chief of staff to a governor to an entry-level position. Fugate says this “shaped how I think about every position on campus.” When he walks around Wilson, he tries “to remember every position and person is important to an institution.”

Les Fugate still remembers driving his brother to the University of Georgia. “The drive home must have been the loneliest I’ve ever been in my life.” For Wes Fugate, it was equally lonely, and after a few weeks of coming home to an empty apartment, he adopted a cat, Scarlet. This same cat, 12 years older, has made herself the “queen” of Sharpe House.

On his first day at UGA, Fugate was introduced by his boss to Ward, another member of the student affairs team. Both claim they liked the other immediately, but it would take them another six months before they got the courage and opportunity to speak to each other properly. Not long after they did, they began dating and two years ago, they were married. Ward, who loves to travel, is an educator who takes student groups on international trips. “I take students abroad, keep them safe and alive, and teach them about other cultures,” he says. Being the husband of the college president is a new challenge for Ward. He sees his role as “supporting Wes and supporting students, and being a champion for all things Wilson.” He says, “We both feel very welcome here.”

After Fugate completed his doctorate, he was hired as the executive assistant to the president at Randolph College, Lynchburg, Va. Hamilton, who reached out to him on behalf of Beacon of Hope, remembers his arrival, “I’ve never seen anyone just roll into town and within a year or two, he was sitting on numerous boards, including his love—theater.” Bateman, who became president of Randolph College two years after Fugate arrived, says, “It became clear to me how gifted Wes was at making things happen and at the same time, his immense dedication to liberal arts.” During his first year as president, Bateman was on the road most of the time meeting alums and fundraising and “really needed someone back on campus to run the college. Wes was already able to do that.” He made Fugate his chief of staff.

Bodine, the assistant dean at Randolph when she met him, talks about Fugate’s energy and ability in glowing terms. Even with all the responsibilities of being the chief of staff, “Wes being Wes, he offered his services to almost every functional area on campus. He worked with advancement, communications, enrollment, athletics and student affairs. If there was anything he could do to improve the student experience, he’d do it. He may not be able to fix a leaky pipe or a broken elevator, but I wouldn’t put it past him.”

Fugate admits he’s a workaholic. “I typically get up at 5 a.m. every day, work out and am in the office by 7 a.m. I don’t physically like to stay in the office past 6 p.m., but there is so much more work to be done after that—attend events and lectures, host dinners, etc.”

For a man who works so hard, he still manages to maintain a work-life balance that’s enviable. He and Ward love to play strategic board games with friends and family, host dinners, go to musicals as often as they can and particularly love to travel internationally. One of the amazing things about Fugate is he achieves all this without the aid of coffee. “I’m a tea drinker,” he says. Hamilton notes tea is not the only fuel he enjoys, “He’s a cheese fanatic, but it has to be really good cheese. Then he’s a happy man.”

“Over the next six months,” Fugate says, “I’m going to do a lot of listening. The worst thing a president can do is come in and impose his vision.” Bateman says simply, “Wilson is very fortunate to have Wes as president at this time. He really knows how to run a college.” Randolph College professor Kunz puts it even more simply, “I’m a big fan. Wes is a warm people person who also has astute managerial insight. He was born to be a college president.”

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