A letter to the future president of VSU in the aftermath of a polarizing election:
Welcome to our college. We hope you stick around. Valdosta State has had three presidents in the last year and a half, and it’s in need of some stability.
Prior to 2002, the average presidential tenure at VSU was just over 17.5 years, with the exception of the second president, Dr. Jere Pound, who only served a year due to illness. After Dr. Hugh Bailey retired, the average time in office of the three succeeding presidents dwindled to just over four and a half years—about the same amount of time a student might spend at VSU.
The president of VSU has the power to lead the university in whatever direction he or she chooses. How can VSU prosper if its direction changes every four years? In order to continue to succeed, VSU needs you to be here for the long-haul.
This semester freshmen enrollment increased for the first time since 2011, but students have no reason to stay at a college that has little or no established leadership at its core. The class of 2019 has already seen three presidents since they began at VSU. This sort of change can keep a student from feeling a true connection with the college.
Ahead of the presidential search, students seemed to feel the same way many citizens did during this election cycle: fed up with the system and pessimistic about the ability of the government (or, in this case, the college) to fix itself.
As our next president, we need you to take us into account when it comes to making big decisions for the university. Students should have a say in all major performances, rallies and speaking engagements happening on campus. Last semester’s 2Chainz concert, which cost the university almost $90,000, had no student input at all. That is unacceptable. Transparency is the best way to gain the trust of the student body.
After five years of declining enrollment, and especially since beginning of the “Invest.Ignite.Inspire.” campaign in July 2014, the university has been too preoccupied with its outward image, and not the opinion of the students it already has. You have a chance to make that right.
Though part of your job may be to fundraise, happy students will speak well of the college and do most of the recruiting for you.
As students, we need to acknowledge that it is our responsibility to be vocal about our needs. We must understand the importance of attending Student
Government Association meetings and paying attention to who we elect to represent us.
The relationship between students and the president of a university isn’t a one way deal. We need you, and you need us.