Remembering Dean of Students Emeritus Mike Preston
J. Michael “Mike” Preston ’63, died on June 15, 2014, in Brevard, N.C.
Students from the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s remember Preston for his unflappable approach to student problems. He once likened his philosophy on managing student life to teaching a child to bake cookies.
“It’s easier to say ‘get out of my way,’ but it’s better for them if they do it for themselves,” he explained. “I made sure the important stuff got done, and that they didn’t get hurt, but I stayed out of their way.”
According to Dean of Students Roberta Bigger ’81, one of the first women to live on campus, Preston was instrumental in assuring the success of co-education at Wofford. He hired the first female assistant dean of students and maintained an open-door policy with Wofford women. He handled judicial matters swiftly and empowered students to lead. He attended most college events and never sat down at a Wofford football game.
“As a student I always wondered why,” says Bigger. “Now as dean of students I realize that standing on the fence during football games at Snyder Field allowed him to be open to students in a non-obtrusive way.”
After retirement Preston suffered from heart problems, but that did not keep him from working the farm in Brevard that he and his wife, Jane, considered their home and sanctuary. He spent his days mending fences, hauling hay and remodeling the split-log cabin originally built in the 1800s.
He and Jane continued to care for legions of cats as well as several dogs and horses.
Memorials may be made to Wofford College in his honor.