Since President John Anderson announced his retirement, a presidential search has been running to find his successor. Last Tuesday, the first candidate to be “interviewed” arrived.
Brian Rose visited Millersville from Feb. 5-7 to meet with faculty, staff and students. On Tuesday, Feb. 6 a “meet the presidential candidate” event was held where students and faculty could get a first-hand impression of Rose and how he could be a good fit for the school. Every candidate for president will be holding a similar event as they visit MU in the coming weeks.
The event was held in the Reighard Multipurpose Room over common hour. The event was filled with a majority of faculty and staff attendees, and more chairs were being set up as the event was starting due to the large crowd.
The event was formatted with five pre-selected questions for the first half, and then an open Q&A time for the second. All the candidates who visit will be asked the same five questions in this format.
Ann Womble, who is the trustee of the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), was the “moderator” of the event. She controlled the floor and asked the questions to Rose.
Meet the candidate
Brian Rose has spent over 25 years working in higher education. For the past 10 years, he has served as vice president for student affairs at Binghamton University in New York. In his cover letter to Millersville, Rose said that his “operational experience is within student affairs and, I am therefore well-versed in stewarding the student experience so that it supports student success.” More information about Rose, the rest of his cover letter, and the full recording of the event can be found on the PSC website.
Why do you want to be president of Millersville?
Rose answered this question by saying that you need to want to be president in general. He referenced his son’s and his friend’s challenges in traversing starting their college experiences. He said that most college-students-to-be know that they are going to attend a university, but they just have trouble navigating how to effectively do college. He said the main problem is that students don’t know how to fully take advantages of the school’s resources.
Rose that he wants to help these students with his experience in student affairs to accomplish this. He said it helps to have strong liberal arts programs, because that can help students get into a program, and refine what they want to do by getting more specific as they find what they’re passionate about.
What are Millersville’s strengths and what are its weaknesses?
Rose started by saying that Millersville’s weaknesses are things that effect all schools: unrepresented populations attending college at lower than average rates, that tuition-driven schools are harder to operate, and that public confidence in higher education is declining in general.
He said that some of Millersville’s strengths are that it is one of the oldest PASSHE schools, and that the attention the faculty gives students is great. He also put emphasis on MU’s consistent and historical record to commitment to excellence.
How will you approach building your senior leadership team?
Rose said that “I don’t like to settle… you invest a lot of time finding someone for a position, and when you invest that time, you want it to work… I don’t want to appoint somebody who is the best of a mediocre group.” He said he wants his team to inspire him and others, and if they aren’t doing that, then they aren’t going to be a part of his team.
How will you work on increasing diversity and inclusivity on campus?
To this question he reflected the idea President Anderson shared at the opening of the Intercultural Center: diversity and inclusion helps students to have a deeper and more meaningful education experience, but also prepares them for the real world in the global marketplace.
He then mentioned that the gaps in percentages of college attendance of “underrepresented groups” as compared to average college attendance needs to be closed. “It has to be about growing the number of students from those under-represented populations going to college in the first place,” he said saying that the solution to this underrepresentation is more than just getting students to college, but investing in communities in grades K-12. He said the solution is bigger than just getting kids to school to meet diversity requirements, but genuinely investing in kids to prepare them for school.
“I don’t know if we pay enough attention to it in those kind of systemic and big-picture ways. And if colleges and universities aren’t willing to ask the big questions, I’m not sure who is,” he said regarding the fact that colleges need to be the ones leading the charge in finding ways to make college campuses more diverse.
What is your philosophy and approach to freedom and education and expression on campus?
Rose started by referencing that he is expected to handle divisive incidents in his current role. “When a biased incident happens on a campus, the outcry for an immediate and strong university response is ever present, and the expectation is ‘somebody said something highly offensive to me, make that person go away.’”
Rose said that handling an incident like this is the incorrect response. “My approach is not to say ‘don’t let that speaker speak on campus’… it’s got to be more about ‘how do you move beyond that to support a better conversation.’” He went on to say that when people feel as if a divisive speaker said something hurtful or offensive, but the speech is protected under the first amendment, you have to instill confidence in the hurt people. He said that you have to assure those people that what those speakers say is not the status quo. But that throwing out speakers because of what they say is not the answer, and that doing so will make you a short term hero, but won’t be as helpful in the long term.
After the preselected questions were complete, the floor was opened up to faculty and students to ask questions. There were questions that were centered around “what will you do to make sure that different department’s needs are being met?” and “how will you impact the student body and help them come together?” There were roughly ten questions during the second half of the event, the full answers of which can be seen in the full recording found at http://www.millersville.edu/presidential-search/.