For the second time this academic year, Slippery Rock University will play host this week to a group of candidates who will potentially be SRU’s next president. The first candidate on campus was Washington and Lee University Senior Adviser to the president, Daniel Wubah.
Wubah has worked in higher education since 1992, starting as a biology professor at Towson University. In 2000, he moved on to James Madison University as an associate dean and then moving up to special assistant to the president in 2003. In 2007 Wubah moved into an administrative role as an associate provost for undergraduate education. In 2009 he started at Virginia Tech University as a vice president for undergraduate education and deputy provost before finally ending up at Washington and Lee University as a provost. This past year he served as a senior advisor to the president at W&L as the university was transitioning to a new president.
In 2017 Wubah had been a candidate for the presidency at Bloomsburg University and the State University of New York at Oneonta.
Wubah’s visit to SRU’s campus included a campus tour, meetings with student leaders, faculty, staff, community members, and an open session for everyone. At the open session, Wubah talked about his background and his experience in higher education. Wubah, a native of Ghana, came to the United States in pursuit of his master’s degree in biology. He attended Akron University for his master’s in biology and the University of Georgia for his Ph. D. in botany. Wubah said that he was interested in the position at Slippery Rock for three big reasons.
He said the big reasons he was interested in SRU was because it is similar to universities he has been at in the past in terms of the academic profile and rural community, the reputation of the university and the trajectory the university is headed on. The two universities that Wubah had spent the most time at, Towson and James Madison, had similar starts, as normal schools and teachers’ colleges before becoming a comprehensive institution.
“Having been on those campuses,” Wubah said. “I have an appreciation and a commitment to the value system and the mission of that type of institution.”
Wubah said that SRU is unique in the fact that SRU has four liberal arts accreditations, something no other school in the state system has. Wubah was also impressed with SRU’s data science program as an opportunity for the university to lead the way in the nation.
“The trajectory of this campus is amazing,” Wubah said. “It’s heading in the right direction. No one wants to be on a campus where it’s stagnant or it’s going downhill. We all want to somewhere that you can contribute to the progress of the success of the organization, and Slippery Rock is doing a lot of good things and has the opportunity to go to the next level.”
From there Wubah outlined his professional experiences before taking questions from the audience. Wubah fielded questions regarding diversity, the importance of students’ voice and being a part of the community.
In terms of diversity, Wubah said that focusing on underrepresented and first-generation college students is the best way to diversify a university. He said that it takes an “intentional, from the ground-up” effort and that diversity goes past just statistics and more about ensuring all students from all backgrounds feeling comfortable.
For the importance of student voice, Wubah said he is always interested in hearing the different perspectives students can bring.
“Whenever I set up a committee, especially when it has to do with administrative roles, I always try to invite students to be on the committee because they bring a voice that is different than that of a staff member or that of a faculty member,” Wubah said.
Wubah also said that while at James Madison he and the president would often take 30 minutes every Friday just to walk around campus and just talk to students in a natural, “unfiltered” setting.
To end the session, Wubah asked the crowd how the university could work towards having a better relationship with the Slippery Rock community, saying that the community has as much to give the university and it’s students as the university and students have to give to the community.
“Get the students into the community, let them get experiences that they could not get anywhere else,” Wubah said. “I see a community that I can see myself being a part of and actually being committed to the place, not an add-on.”
Slippery Rock’s next candidate for president, Matthew Liao-Troth from Hawai’i Pacific University, will visit campus Tuesday, Feb. 13 with an open session starting at 3:15 and a student session at 4:30.