Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A personable president leads to positive college atmosphere

ESTHER SHITTU ’17

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

 

Recently emails have been sent out about the process of finding a new President for next year. When I first learned that President Jones was being replaced, I felt angry. During this time, I was still deciding which college is right for me, and I did not really need any further complication that would make the decision harder to make.

Trinity was a school I was seriously considering, but upon finding out that the President was leaving, I was disappointed. I did not like the idea of having to come to a school that will eventually go into transition from one president to another. My high school career was filled with constant changes in the administration and faculty, some of which did not benefit the student body. The fact that a college that I could possibly go to would soon be experiencing such a major change made me skeptical. I remembered President Jones; he was part of the reason that I even considered Trinity in the first place.

I never heard of Trinity until I was persuaded by my high school college advisor to visit the school during preview weekend in November. During that time, I learned that many students respected President Jones. He was said to be very friendly, amiable and it wasn’t rare to see him around. Some even said that it was common for him to have lunch with them at Mather. I was told that he loved to have personal encounters with his students. Coming from a high school in which it was rare for me to see my principal, this was strange to me and a little hard to believe.

Moreover I doubted that the President of a college could be so personal. It seemed that the students must be stretching the truth. Boy was I wrong. Of all the schools that I visited, and of the schools that I considered, only President Jones came out to meet the perspectives during a minority weekend. I did not see him the first day, but on the second day, he came to have breakfast with us.

He was the only one who took a moment out of his schedule to actually come and speak to us. He didn’t rush through his speech, and to be honest, I do not remember what his speech was about. But, I remembered that he came and spoke. He spoke to us as individuals who were important to him. He acknowledged that we weren’t just numbers that could add to his school, but that we were young people who were at a crossroad that could impact our lives, and he decided to make us feel special. Even though it was a minority weekend, he did not let that prevent him from visiting and working to connect with us personally.

This may not seem as important to others as it did to me. When I went home after the weekend, and I was asked by my advisor what I thought about the school, I told her, “I wouldn’t mind going to the school.” The school that had never crossed my mind before suddenly became important. Sure the interview, and the beautiful campus as well as friendly people were important, and I considered those elements.

However, I felt that I was going to a school where I would be cared for. I did not want to go to a place where I would be a number. It was also appealing that the president would know my name and the president wouldn’t just be someone in a big office that looked unapproachable. And even though I knew that he was leaving, I was glad to hear that I still had the chance to spend a year getting to know the man that many people spoke so fondly of.

I do not know the details behind the retirement of President Jones, but I am sad that I am not able to develop the relationship that those before me were able to make with the man. Even in my short time here, and in the moments when I have heard him speak, I realize that he connects with his students on a more personal note. And because of that I am truly sad that he won’t be with us after this year.

Moreover, I hope the council that is picking out a new president takes into account the idea that a president’s job is not only to govern over a school like a tyrant, but also to personally connect with the students and make memories with them like President Jones has surely done. If given a choice of what I want in a president, I want someone who doesn’t do away with the foundations that President Jones has set but rather tries to improve upon them.

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