For students and faculty alike, the first few weeks of classes always seem to set the tone for the rest of the year. The same can be said for the very beginning of most new endeavors – and certainly for the first few weeks of a university president’s administration.
With that in mind, what has President F. Javier Cevallos shown us so far this year?
Well for one, he’s attended quite a few events. This may seem less significant when compared to major policy changes, but the simple act of showing the community that he is interested in what programs faculty and students are organizing and learning the way people on this particular campus interact is essential in getting to know FSU.
Secondly, he’s made a point to say at almost every event he’s attended that he encourages direct communication between himself and the community, going as far as calling himself an “email junkie.” Making sure that everyone on campus, from the most apprehensive freshman to fellow administrators, feels comfortable bringing any problem to his attention is no small gesture. Observing and responding to the pulse of the community – what issues students, faculty and staff are concerned about – is the first step toward understanding and addressing those issues.
Thirdly, he has laid out some tangible goals and already set them in motion. He’s looking for actionable data to find out why our retention rates aren’t higher and is planning on providing more resources to help students stay in college until graduation.
Cevallos is not using the key word “diversity” in speeches to sound inclusive and then neglecting to provide the resources to actually make our campus a global community based on unity. He is putting actual money toward initiatives including hiring a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO), to reach the goals committees on campus have been reccomending for years.
For years The Gatepost has been advocating for diversity initiatives we believe the school needed to undertake. One of those initiatives was the Multicultural Center, which was opened last year, and the other was the CDIO, a position which is being created this fall.
Cevallos is laying out the plans for his initiatives in clear and simple terms, avoiding the way some administrators might present a topic by using a lot of words, without actually saying much – in a way reminiscent of politicians. This is evident, for example, in his diversity policy goal, which states, “At Framingham, we respect every single person.”
Cevallos and his wife, Josee, have put their own personal money into a scholarship to help “empower students,” as he said at the All University meeting this Wednesday. He has already started to invest the school’s resources into initiatives that are important to our community, and is investing his own money to show he “is not only preaching, [he] is also doing,” as he said.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Cevallos has set a tone of community and civility by being gracious, available and friendly to everyone in the community. By establishing good communication and clear goals, he’s opening the way for everyone on campus to work together, invest themselves more in our community and see greater results from those investments, as they receive the support they deserve.
If this is indeed indicative of the way Cevallos will be leading, then we at The Gatepost are heading into this year with high hopes. In the future, we may not always agree with the policies put forth by this administration, but we believe Cevallos is off to a good start – and we look forward to continuing to report on his presidency.