College President Moves Into Dorm

Col. Mark Anarumo of Norwich University worried about effects of lockdown isolation on students
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 10:00 AM CST
Military College Dorm Gets a New Resident: Its President
Col. Mark Anarumo is seen Jan. 28, 2020, in Northfield, Vt., after he was named president of Norwich University.   (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

The best military leaders aren't afraid to get in the trenches, and even though he's now a civilian, Dr. Mark C. Anarumo's old habits die hard. The 50-year-old retired Air Force colonel and father of four is the president of Norwich University, a private military college in Northfield, Vt. But when dozens of students came down with COVID at the end of January, and Anarumo had to issue an in-room quarantine order, he made an unusual decision: He moved into one of the dorms, reports the New York Times. Anarumo moved into his 10-by-12-foot single in Wilson Hall on Jan. 29 "with no fanfare," per Seven Days. "I wanted to sneak in," Anarumo tells the Vermont newspaper. "I didn't want it to be some kind of performative event. I just wanted to show the students that I'm with them." He figured it wouldn't be a difficult transition, as he's slept everywhere from his car to a foxhole while deployed.

What prompted Anarumo to bunk down in Wilson were his worries of how social isolation was affecting students, as well as the many suicides he'd encountered: Eleven service members under his watch had died this way, and while still teaching at Colorado's Air Force Academy last spring, there were two suicides. In Wilson Hall, Anarumo used the same bathrooms as the students, ate college-issued meals, and was an "involuntary audience to the Top 40 hits and hardcore rap" music they played, per the Times. Infections on campus have since dropped and the in-room quarantine has been lifted. The AP notes Anarumo had to leave Wilson Hall after five days to travel for business, but he plans to move into a dorm again this month after he's done with his required quarantine. "I will always be scared to death" for the students, he tells the Times. "Even when everything's perfect." (More uplifting news stories.)

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