A Man Whose Heart is in the Work
By Angela Burrows
Susquehanna hit the jackpot with Jonathan Green, according to students, former colleagues and friends at both Sweet Briar College and Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU).
"He is just a marvelous, marvelous man," says John Gregory Brown, who chairs Sweet Briar's creative writing program, and Carrie Brown, a writer in residence at the college and John Gregory's wife.
Starting as a member of the music faculty, Jonathan later spent eight years as Sweet Briar's dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs, followed by six years as IWU's provost and dean of the faculty.
"A president has to be good with alumni, a fundraiser, an effective administrator ... Jonathan will be all those things and more," says John Gregory. "There is no pretense in him. He's interested in people and has such enthusiasm. He was beloved by students and colleagues here.
"I don't think you could have found someone more qualified. His positive energy will have a ripple effect. We always felt safe with him at the helm. Often, faculties and administrations can find themselves on opposite sides of the aisle. He erases the aisle."
The Browns recounted a story that reflects Jonathan's caring and character. When their daughter, Molly-who is now a very successful, published poet-was about 10, she had already written a number of poems, and Jonathan offered to set one of them to music. He and Molly selected two short poems, rather than one. Jonathan wrote the music, and the Sweet Briar choir performed it.
"We were overwhelmed by the great generosity of that," says John Gregory.
"He took a child's early efforts and treated them with dignity. Jonathan's not-inconsequential gesture, which was in keeping with his character, made a real difference for Molly and no doubt helped to propel her forward in pursuit of her poetry."