Home Folks at Noke “An Interviews with the Maxeys”

“An Interviews with the Maxeys”

by Chamberlain Zulauf

I’ve had a number of different jobs. I came originally as a development officer for Roanoke, and worked in that for several years, directing the college campaign at one point. I went on to be the head of the admissions office and had two years where I ran admissions and development. Then, I chose to return to admissions work and did that for a long time. My work included admissions and marketing, public relations and financial aid, planning and all kinds of things. I was promoted to become president after that. I joke with people that I’m Roanoke’s swiss army knife.

They [trusties] came to me and asked me at first to consider becoming an interim president while they ran a search but they changed their minds and asked me to serve as the president fully. So it was a little unusual- different from what we did this time with Dr. Shushok.

I slept on it. I had one overnight to think about it and I told [the trustees] I wanted to ask Terry, and my son’s. I came back the next day and said, I’ll do this, but you need to make sure that other people on campus feel as good about me the as you do so they took about a month to talk with the faculty, alumni and staff members to come back and say ‘we’d like to move forward’. By then I was all in.



Everything that I’ve done, I’ve done with somebody, there’s nothing in terms of my accomplishments, I’ve done alone. 

I’ll give you some examples. The Cregger Center was the idea of Mr. Cregger, and he was clearly the top donor to it. Working with him to realize something that he imagined, that we took in and made into something real, was special. David Guy, another trustee who managed the building part of the project for us was brilliant. We had 700 people donate. There was lots of planning from faculty and coaches to make it happen. 

I suppose, of the program, things that have been accomplished are the emphasis in the college on experiential learning, internships, studying away and doing research. That is the number one thing that has been accomplished- of course that was the faculty working on that. They’ve done all the heavy lifting on that. 

Something else that I’m proud of not as president, but I’m really excited about this; I worked years ago to help bring the first Palestinian students to Roanoke, when I was still in admissions. That program has flourished, so I’m really proud of that and we just finished raising money for a Hillel chapter. I’m just pleased that Roanoke is the kind of place where you can support Palestinian students and Jewish students in a fair and equal kind of way. 



I’ll give you a metaphorical answer. When I first came here, the walkway up to the administration building was a gravel driveway- so, you could drive up to the front of the administration building. But now, there are the paved pathways. We took a beautiful, wonderful campus and made it even more so over the years. 

Something I would say is even more significant than that physical characteristic is the growth in who we are as a college. We’re now among the national liberal arts colleges after being among the regional liberal arts colleges when I first came here, and I think that was really one of the great strides forward for the college was to become a national institution in terms of who we are and where we draw students in from. If you’re a baseball fan, it’s like going from triple A ball to major leagues. That’s a great accomplishment for the college.



“A lot of people were wondering, for example, there’s grace Loftus, class of 24. And then there’s lose one or class of 22 Wondering what what you’re going to be up to after you retire. Do you plan to be you know, around campus at all? Where do you plan to go?”

It’s my plan to move one block away from here, towards the garden. We’ll actually be a little bit closer to campus. We’ll stay out of the new president’s way to give him and his wife Kelly a chance to connect with everybody. We’ll be around but we won’t be in the way. I’ll still come to watch sports, go to plays and student lectures. 



My best advice is to learn to love Roanoke’s people and culture, even as you try to make it better. Of all things, I think you need to start with a real deep love and adoration of Roanoke. Try to challenge it to be even better. It’s really those two steps: learn the people and place then make it better!

I’m close to students, because the best part of working with college is to get to know students. The things that I’ve learned from students I’ve been amazed at and I’ve found it rewarding how students respond to challenges whether it’s doing great work or competing athletically or rising to the challenges of COVID. The faith in the students and the faith in the future that that brings I’ve learned a lot from. 

Advice to my younger self would be to open up and go for it from the start, and I’ve always tried to work hard and do my best but I think I would be a little more relentless in my pursuit of certain kinds of things and to be open about what I really think. 



“Yeah. Speaking of Miss Maxi, Jenna of class 22 wants to know what your advice for a long lasting relationship is?”

A long lasting relationship has a lot of give and take in it. It’s got to be as close to equal as you can make it. And the other advice I would give is oftentimes in a relationship, it doesn’t matter who’s right about what you’re discussing. It matters that you work through it. And so, being right is not as big a deal as I once thought it was. 

Have fun together too, of course. I love to dance, we’re always excited for pres ball. She’s a better dancer than I am though. 



We moved here from New Hampshire; springtime up there happens in May and lasts about three weeks. In Salem spring is three or four months and it’s glorious. You get these blooms like what’s outside now. It’s just beautiful, a painters season in a lot of ways.

Part of the beauty of campus is that the seasons are set against Fort Lewis mountain. You can watch the seasons move up and down and back and forth on it. You see a snowstorm and that white look of the mountain is gorgeous and to watch fall descend and spring ascend on the mountainside is a blessing.