Dr. Norton stresses diversity, unity at SRU

Published by adviser, Author: Ekaternia Dimitrova - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 3, 2012
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The first candidate for Slippery Rock University’s open presidency position, Dr. Cheryl Norton, held an open forum with the Slippery Rock campus and community at the Alumni House Tuesday afternoon.

Norton was the 10th president of Southern Connecticut State University and the first woman to lead the 115 year-old institution, serving as president for six years.

Norton explained that what attracted her to SRU is the outstanding reputation as an education center, not only in this state, but also in the northern region and around the country.

Norton said SRU doesn’t only have outstanding programs and faculty, but it also has a variety of leadership opportunities offered to students, which she finds to be very important in the current democratic society.

“SRU makes a difference not only into developing individuals but into the character of the community,” Norton said. “This is a community that values each and every person on campus and realizes that each and every person has a contribution to make.”

Norton said her vision for the university is one of unity. If she is chosen to be the next president, it won’t be her singular vision, but a product of teamwork.

Norton understands that a large amount of the students are concerned about their tuition fees, so she hopes in three to five years to reduce this anxiety.

In the future, Norton said she believes that the new performing arts center will expand and become a magnet for the community.

The alumni will be actively involved in the institution, passing the torch onwards to present students, and being ambassadors for the university across the state, because many voices make a difference.

Norton also discussed recently-retired president Dr. Robert M. Smith’s authorization for the creation of a climate action plan, which aims to make the campus climate neutral by 2037.

She hopes to follow those footsteps and make the campus a sustainable environment.

Another area Norton was impressed with at SRU was sustainability. She was impressed with SRU’s energy consolidation policy and individual pledge towards conservation.

She also mentioned that diversity is a core value to her policy and she will try to expand the job positions in order to attract more diverse groups of individuals.

When she was president at Southern Connecticut State University, her approach in this area was to send faculty members to national conferences. She did this so that the faculty members could talk about the campus and invite individuals who had a diverse background.

She believes personal contact is an opportunity to further engage with individuals.

Norton also said that she was very impressed when she found out that SRU contributes $334 million dollars of wages to the town of Slippery Rock.

Every credit a student takes increases their wage by $199 and that keeps the attention of businessmen. Bringing legislators to campus is important, Norton said. Her views on athletics in the university are that they are beneficial to the students.

“Practice may not make you perfect but it does make you better,” Norton said. “One of the most important things in education is how do people perceive their education, every potential is different. Having said that, students should remember that they are students first and athletes second.”

Norton also said she thinks faculty having experience moving up the ranks is important.

“I myself started out in the trenches as a faculty member,” Norton said. “It is important for leaders to have been faculty members, having gone through the ranks, having been in the trenches, having understood what happens in the classroom, because I think in order to break down the barriers to the success of everyone in the campus that those lessons are very important.”

Norton said her policy, if she were chosen to be the president of Slippery Rock University, would be to get to know the students and make sure they know her. Slippery Rock University will continue the search for its next president today at 2 p.m., at the Alumni House.

The next candidate to be interviewed will be Dr. C. Jack Maynard, who is currently serving as the provost and vice president of education for Indiana State University.

Before his time at ISU, Dr. Maynard served as the founding dean of the School of Education and Human Services at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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