The Beginning of an Ongoing Conversation

President's Perspective

August 2011

It is easy for a college president to become insulated from the community he serves, given busy schedules and the good intentions of those around him who want to protect his time. Eventually, a president can seem unapproachable. I don’t want that to happen.

Communication with all members of the Ursinus community, students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and friends, is important to me. I want to create opportunities for listening and responding to your ideas and concerns.

This President’s Perspective is the first of a monthly e-communication during the academic year. I will write to you about Ursinus stories, discuss campus issues, or explore how national higher education issues and trends affect our College. In this column I want to provide this link to the State of the College address that I delivered on Tuesday, 23 August, to the faculty and staff. It offers eight strategic priorities that I invite the entire Ursinus community to discuss. Responses to the State of the College address and to any column in President’s Perspective can be addressed to me at perspective@ursinus.edu.

In addition to this monthly email column, I will be holding an open hour weekly on campus. I will be in the Wismer Lower Lounge Sept. 1, 15, 22, and 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (I am off campus on Sept. 8). The purpose is for me to be available to any member of the Ursinus community who wants to talk with me about an idea or concern. I will be accompanied by my assistant Ken Schaefer, who will follow up on an issue with the appropriate office and seek resolution to a problem you may have.

For many people, making an appointment to see the President seems intimidating. Coming into the administration building, even a welcoming place like Corson Hall, just doesn’t have the same appeal as sitting with a cup of coffee from Jazzman’s.

I first observed these informal Presidential chats at Hamilton College, where I served as Dean of the Faculty. The Hamilton President regularly scheduled times where students, faculty and staff could talk to him about what was on their minds. I adopted this practice at Butler University, where I was President for the past 10 years, and I would like to carry over this practice to Ursinus.

A typical session might result in suggestions, such as installing a “to-do” box to alert the facilities staff about repair issues. I may be asked to investigate why the requirements for a major had changed. Students may have an idea for a new service project or campus initiative. Sometimes I may hear about a good experience or a disappointment. I want to informed about the range of your Ursinus experiences.

Please take advantage of these opportunities to hear from and communicate with me, both online and in person. Over time, may they come to be regarded as natural avenues of information and frank communication. Welcome to the conversation.

Go Bears!
Bobby Fong
President, Ursinus College