On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the next presidential candidate for Millersville visited. Dr. Daniel Wubah visited the campus over a three day period, and held an “open forum” where he answered questions from students and faculty.
As for all the presidential candidates, Wubah participated in a meet and greet event where he answered questions and addressed concerns from the audience. Each candidate that visits is asked five preselected questions for the first half of the event, and then participates in an open Q&A for the second half.
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 Dr. Wubah.
Dr. Wubah has a background in science, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology-related programs, and a PhD in botany and microbiology. From 2013-2016 he was the Senior Advisor to the President and a professor of biology at Washington and Lee University.
In his cover letter to Millersville, he states that “I served in positions of increasing administrative complexity and responsibility at four other universities,” providing context to why he has the experience to be president.
He served at Virginia Tech in an administrative position where he oversaw policies and programs on campus. He noted that he oversaw an annual budget of over $400 million with the departments that he coordinated. Wubah held positions at other universities such as the University of Florida and James Madison University in different capacities at an administrative level.
Why do you want to be president of Millersville?
Dr. Wubah referenced that he had gotten practice answering the question different times that day through talking with and answering questions from students. To answer the question, Wubah said that he was originally nominated for the position, and then he did more research about Millerville. “The more I learned about the institution, the more excited I became,” he said talking about the programs at Millersville.
Dr. Wubah said that he sat down and asked himself that question, and then outlined specific reasons why he would want to be at Millersville. First, he stated that he is very committed to the core values of a liberal arts college. Second, he refencered liking the type and reputation Millersville has: that it has had a good “historical trajectory,” first starting as a small community school and expanded over the years to a larger school. The third reason he said was personal: he would love to live closer to his daughter and grandchildren who live in Philadelphia.
What are Millersville’s strengths and what are its weaknesses?
Wubah opened with saying, “given the direction of this institution and its upward trajectory, the next president will have to pay very good attention to how to turn challenges into opportunities.” He said that one of the challenges will be how Millersville handles the transformation of PASSHE in the coming years. He said that Millersville will have an opportunity to influence these changes, and that it needs to be ready.
After he noted other challenges, Wubah said that the strengths of Millersville far outweigh them. He summarized the strengths to start: “the people, the programs, the place.” Wubah reflected what the other candidates who have visited mentioned: that Millersville is student-centered. “Everyone here is looking at student success,” he said referencing that Millersville is genuine in this aspect, and that other universities say that they are focused on students, but don’t show it in their actions.
How will you approach building your senior leadership team?
To start, Wubah said that “assembling a team that will be effective and that can position the institution to head in the right direction is not going to be a short term process.” He said that it could take two or three years to find the right people for the positions. He then said that the next president should be someone with experience creating leadership teams in the past. Wubah became specific about the way he would build his team, some of the steps including getting input from those who previously held the positions, making a timetable for the process, and setting up screening committees for potential candidates.
How will you work on increasing diversity and inclusivity on campus?
Wubah started by saying that he was responsible for overseeing diversity initiatives when he was special assistant to the president at James Madison University (JMU). He then said that Millersville must already be doing something right, because for the past six years we have received awards for diversity.
He mentioned a program that he was a part of at JMU where faculty members spent one day a week at high schools with large minority populations. The faculty would help these kids prepare for college, and since the advisors were from JMU, the students would most likely apply there. Wubah said that that is just one example of how to invest in the community and get underrepresented populations into the college community.
Wubah is less concerned with the composition of the campus than he is with the policies and practices on campus. He said he is more concerned with creating a campus climate that helps retain minority students with a healthy environment, rather than just the number of students.
What is your philosophy and approach to freedom and education and expression on campus?
“Academic freedom is one of the most important privileges, but one of the honors that as a scholar – as a faculty member – you enjoy,” Wubah said talking about his experiences. He then went on to say that in some cases, academic freedom is misunderstood. He then summarized his philosophy: “It should be something that would allow students, faculty, and staff on the campus to debate without fear.”
Wubah went on to say that although open debates and discussions should be allowed, academic freedom should not be used by faculty or professors to force their opinions onto students. “They should be able to separate facts from opinions.”
The second half of the event was an open Q&A where Dr. Wubah was asked three additional questions. These questions revolved around him getting to know students, increasing Millersville’s global and regional educational reach, and what his reaction letter would have been to students had he been president in the wake of the protests that happened last year in Charlottesville, North Carolina. Students and faculty who could not attend the forum are encouraged to watch the full interview with Dr. Daniel Wubah at http://www.millersville.edu/presidential-search/candidate-profiles.php