Georgia Southern community voices thoughts at presidential selection forums

The Georgia Southern University community shared ideas on qualities the next university president should have during a series of listening sessions held on Monday. Representatives of the Presidential Search Committee will conduct similar listening sessions on the Armstrong campus on Tuesday and a session at the Liberty campus on Wednesday.

By The George-Anne staff

The Georgia Southern University community shared ideas about qualities the next university president should have during a series of listening sessions held Monday.

The sessions were hosted by the presidential selection committee, announced Aug. 22.

Sessions were held throughout the day for faculty, staff, students and community members to voice their thoughts.

What faculty and staff are saying

The faculty and staff listening sessions on Monday morning drew a small crowd of five professors and four staff members.

Mark Welford, professor of geography at GS, said he wants a president who will be an advocate for the university’s faculty and staff.

“What I would like to see . . . someone who will support the faculty, will be a spokesman for the faculty, for the students and for all staff, rather than being a mouthpiece for [the Board of Regents],” Welford said during the session.

Richard Flynn, English professor, wants a president who has an academic focus.

“We don’t want to have a non-academic as our president,” Flynn said.

Flynn also wants a president who has experience teaching at the undergraduate level.

“I would prefer someone who [has] undergraduate teaching experience, but I mean, I don’t know if I would necessarily rule out a candidate whose teaching was mostly at graduate level,” Flynn said. “We need somebody who is going to be on the faculty’s side.”

What students are saying

The presidential search committee held a listening session for students from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.

Students were invited to voice their concerns and talk about issues that they feel are most important to the campus; however, very few students were in attendance.

Henry Greys, senior history major from the Hinesville campus, voiced his concerns regarding the financial aid process.

“I was enrolled in classes, then I started getting emails saying that my classes hadn’t been paid for,” Greys said.

What community members are saying

Community members were invited to voice their thoughts on the presidential search in the last of Monday’s listening sessions.

Kathy Jenkins, Habitat for Humanity executive director, shared her thoughts as an alumna, community member and parent.

“Statesboro and Georgia Southern are so very closely intertwined, and I really want to see someone come in that understands and appreciates that symbiotic relationship,” Jenkins said.

Phyllis Thompson, Chamber of Commerce president, attended the listening session to represent the Statesboro business community.

“Our community has worked hard, particularly in the past five or six years, to make [the community] more attractive and useful, particularly those corridors that are most connected between the university community and downtown,” Thompson said. “We are hoping that it will be someone who will understand our doing, that is, in part to make Georgia Southern a more attractive choice for students who have a lot of choices.”

Moving forward

Representatives of the Presidential Search Committee will conduct similar listening sessions on the Armstrong campus Tuesday and a session at the Liberty campus Wednesday.

According to the presidential search timeline, the committee plans to post a position announcement in early September.

If you were unable to attend the series of listening sessions, surveys on presidential qualities can be sent anonymously here.

Ashley Jones, The George-Anne Opinions Writer, [email protected].

Matthew Enfinger, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief, [email protected].

Brendan Ward, The George-Anne Coverage/Daily Managing Editor, [email protected]

Madison Martin, The George-Anne Contributor,

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