Baby-Boomer College Presidents Embrace Student Life
College presidents are going beyond the nine-to-five office hours. At my alma matter, Friends University, our president was constantly getting involved with the student body. Whether it was playing Frisbee with the students that lived in the dorms or grilling burgers for the football team, Biff Green was, and continues, reaching out to his students.
The baby-boomer presidents, which were raised during the anti-establishment of the ’60s, want to be more than a poised picture hanging on the wall. They’ve become unlike their straitlaced Dean Wormer predecessors. And they seem to be more comfortable hanging out with freshmen than attending donor luncheons.
These presidents “are a far less formal generation than those that came before,” said Leonard Steinhorn, from the School of Communication at American University. Fifty years ago, these presidents were students who “fought against hierarchy, questioned authority, and didn’t feel that they had to dress a certain way to express expertise.”
But it’s not merely the generation they came from that has made them more personable. Social media has broken the barrier between president and student. Email, Facebook, even Twitter, has created an informal interaction, and students are enjoying the personal bond.
Whether it’s the baby-boomer generation or social media, presidents want to get to know their students. Here’s what some presidents are doing to reach out to their student body:
Steven Knapp, from George Washington University, played in a student-organized snowball fight.
Edward Ayers, from University of Richmond, deejay-ed his very own inauguration party.
Tracy Fitzsimmons, from Shenandoah University, let her nursing students witness the birth of her twins.
David Hodge, from Miami University in Ohio, started an intramural broomball team.
Lawrence Bacow, from Tufts University, offers to visit students who were sent to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, ever since an undergrad was found passed out on the university’s lawn.
Mark Yudof, from the University of California, tweets several times a day. They’re mostly about higher education, but every once in a while he’ll comment on celebrity deaths or parking issues.
Via The Washington Post