“To the students here today, we start together. I ask that you stop me on the green or in the Camelot Room and tell me how you are doing; share your thoughts and ideas, and challenge me to live up to the high expectations that you hold for The College of Saint Rose.”
Two hours later, they took him up on it. They stopped him on the green, shared their thoughts and ideas and challenged him to live up to the high expectations they hold for Saint Rose.
Well, sort of. At the crowded post-inaugural reception – on the campus green - they introduced themselves to Szczerbacki and asked him to attend an upcoming event they are hosting. He asked for details, posed with them in some photos and said he’d try to make it to Orgullo Latino, the Latin celebration Oct. 26 sponsored by their organization, Spectrum, the African, Latino, Native American student union.
“I liked the fact that he said he wanted to get to know us so we decided to meet him, “ said Monica, a senior and the parliamentarian for Spectrum. “It really lifted my spirits to go out and meet him.”
Never one to waste time, Szczerbacki made Saturday a work day, even though it was doubtless one of the bigger days of his career. In place of a brief speech expressing thanks to colleagues and family, he used his 35-minute inaugural address to issue a substantive agenda, and give thanks to colleagues and family.
Among his plans: advocate for higher education as rising costs and questions about its value loom. “Our diplomas are not commodities,” he said. “They signify preparation and capacity for leading a good life in the deepest sense.”
He also said he planned to diversify Saint Rose’s academic programs, work to contain costs for students, raise money for scholarships and increase the population of international students. He said it was high time to introduce alternative learning opportunities, including, perhaps. Massive Open On-Line Courses.
Foremost, he said are the students themselves. As provost for nine years, Szczerbacki accomplished a great deal. He led crucial planning. And he led hiring of more than 70 professors and expanded scholarly work and research campus wide.
But in that job he had less contact with students than he will as president. And he said he would not wait for them to say hello on the green or in Camelot Room. ” I just may stop you too and ask you to tell me about your favorite course; what are your goals or how was that party in the dorm the other night.”
(for the record: the new president also used his address to vow to set up a Twitter account and promptly did so. Follow him at @strosepres)