President Neil Theobald met with a few dozen students last week, during an informal meet-and-greet in the Student Center Atrium on April 16.
Theobald, who’s met with students before in similar events at Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria, said the events allow him to find out what people are talking about on campus better than if he were in his office.
“These are important to find out what’s on people’s minds,” said Theobald, who’s in the midst of his fourth month as Temple’s president.
He described his short time at the university as “fast-paced” and said one of the more prevalent issues on students’ minds was safety around campus in the wake of a threat referring to the Columbine High School shooting that was written in a bathroom in Gladfelter Hall in March. Students also inquired about the cost of education and summer class offerings, as well as transfer credits, Theobald said.
For students like Shaquille Outar, who met him in the atrium, being able to meet the president “adds to the experience” of college.
“He seemed very caring and down to earth. I really didn’t feel intimidated talking to him,” Outar said. “It definitely adds to the experience that the president can come out here.”
“The best way to get feedback is to find out from the people who are going through it,” Outar said.
Outar said the experience helped disprove a fallacy that high-ranking administrators don’t have to meet with students.
“The misconception is that the president and everybody else is so high up that they don’t have time for students and the people who are paying,” Outar said. “It’s very important for him to come down here and [connect] with us.”
Some students like senior public health major Michael Lombard, who spoke to the president about his thoughts on the cost of tuition, said the simple fact that Theobald was out on campus is good for students.
“As the president, we should see you,” Lombard said, “know what you look like.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.