Gatepost Interview: Dr. F. Javier Cevallos, FSU’s newly appointed president

(Photo by Melina Bourdeau)

What is it about Framingham State that compelled you to enter your name into the presidential search?

I was contacted about the search in the fall, probably October. I have known FSU for quite a while.  It is an institution with a great historical tradition and a brilliant future.  I felt it was the right place for me. Before moving to Kutztown, I worked at UMass Amherst for 18 years, so I have many friends in Massachusetts. That is another reason why FSU was such an attractive opportunity.

Toward the end of the search, The Presidential Search Committee had to conduct 10 one-hour interviews with potential candidates in just two days. How did you feel about such a fast-paced process?

I liked the pace of the search process. I got a call inviting me to be part of the first round of interviews. I enjoyed the interview. It was a dynamic and energetic group of people, all committed to FSU, and it reaffirmed my belief that it was the right place for me.

Knowing that you had to make a great impression, what ideas for FSU did you share with the search committee?

I shared with the committee the work we have done at Kutztown University as examples of possible initiatives for FSU. My plan is to involve the entire campus on shaping the agenda for FSU for the next decade.

You’ve been the president of Kutztown University for 12 years now. When you discovered you had been chosen as the next FSU president, was the feeling bittersweet at all?

Yes, it was bittersweet. When we moved to Kutztown, our children were in 2nd and 5th grade, so they grew up here. We have many friends in the area, and we will certainly stay in touch with them.

Looking back at your time at Kutztown University, what would you say were your biggest accomplishments? What do you take the most pride in as Kutztown University’s president?

I am very proud of the changes in the demographic profile of our campus. We are starting to reflect the rich diversity (in all ways) of our area. We have also done a lot to improve campus facilities, and we have enhanced the academic side of the campus.

How have your friends and family reacted to your agreeing to become the next FSU president? Did your family and friends require some convincing, or were they supportive throughout the entire process?

My family is very supportive and happy to return to Massachusetts. Our two children were born in Northampton. My wife has been traveling back to New England often. One of my siblings lives in Massachusetts, and we are looking forward to seeing our friends in the area.

What are some initiatives that you would like to undertake as FSU president? 

From speaking to several search committee members, broadening the diversity of our campus (whether it be race, ethnicity, an increase in older students), declining enrollment (which many schools have seen in recent years) and, as one search committee member said, “paying attention to the tenure-track issue” were all important issues that need to be addressed.

As I said before, I will involve the entire campus in shaping the vision and the agenda for the next decade. At this point, I can’t really give you a meaningful answer. Let’s talk about this again next fall.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun or relaxation? 

As for relaxation, I am an avid reader. I like to play golf, and once in a while go skiing.

Is there anything you’d like FSU students to know about you as their future president?

I have an open door policy for students. Knowing that schedules are difficult, I encourage students to email me with whatever ideas or concerns they may have. No one [else] has access to my email, so students know they can reach me directly.

Finally, what do you like most about presiding over a university? 

I like to attend student events, so I am looking forward to meeting as many FSU students as possible!

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