Now a graduate student at Slippery Rock University, I have been attending this school for the past four years.
Tuesday afternoon, I attended the open forum at the Alumni House with Dr. Cheryl Norton, the first candidate for the open presidency position at SRU. Like most, I have my own opinion of Dr. Norton after only 45 minutes of listening to her answer questions.
My first thoughts of Dr. Norton and her overall experiences are that she would make a deserving candidate for the president of Slippery Rock. Being president of a public education university in Connecticut with over 12,000 students for six years would make her a deserving candidate at almost any higher education institution. Her doctoral and master’s field of study in education with a background in applied physiology would connect nicely with SRU’s large education and exercise science programs. Having a strong academic background could also fit nicely into enhancingSRU’s academic reputation. Our 17 Division II NCAA sports could also benefit from Dr. Norton’s experience as NCAA Division II President’s Council member.
According to the New Haven Register in New Haven, CT, President Norton was dismissed from Southern Connecticut State University after six years of service with her contract not being renewed. Before dismissal, Dr. Norton had several positive reviews on her presidential employment, with even a local legislator promising a Capitol hearing on the issue of her being dismissed. Her last year of service to Southern Connecticut State University was a full year sabbatical at a full salary of $285,200.
Since leaving Southern Connecticut State University, Dr. Norton has been a deserving presidential or chancellor candidate at many different higher education institutions. According to the university press releases, Dr. Norton has been a finalist at seven institutions including Slippery Rock University. Youngstown State University, Macon State College, University of Wisconsin- Superior, Millikin University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Bowling Green State University all chose Dr. Norton as a finalist. But after six finalist positions, she is still seeking employment at Slippery Rock University.
At the open forum, Norton was able to take command of the filled room promptly. Her light voice reminded me of a good teacher that makes you want to hear more. Like any good president, Dr. Norton can talk forever. When given two simple questions by a trustee member, including why SRU and she are good fit, her long-winded answers went on for a third of the session.
When answering why she would be a good fit for SRU, Dr. Norton stated that all of her work has been in public education. However, for all of her personal education endeavors, Dr. Norton chose to attend all private schools including Denison University, Columbia University, and Harvard University.
When Dr. Itzi Metzli, assistant professor of English, asked a question about how to balance the budget, Norton took the easy route and avoided talking about any internal budget balancing. Her only suggestion was different ways to advocate to Pennsylvania government in order to avoid budget cuts for higher education. If all SRU did in recent years was advocate, the university would be in millions of dollars of debt.
Any possible president needs to have ideas and suggestions. Dr. Norton talked about increasing terminal degrees atSRU. She also talked about increasing alumni engagement and donation. Dr. Norton even had ideas and examples on how to increase diversity recruitment of students and faculty.
In order to be a good leader at SRU, any future president needs to gain the respect of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members. Having the ability to gain respect for any effective leader is crucial. She gained my respect by stating that the next three-year future of SRU will be not only her vision, but a collective vision. If she gets the position, respect and history would be gained as the first female president of SRU. Dr. Norton may also gain respect and make history as possibly the first black belt in Taekwondo and nationally ranked marathon runner to serve as Slippery Rock University’s president.