First presidential candidate visits campus

Ethan Metcalf

A candidate for the presidency of MWSU, Suzanne Shipley, now president of Shephard University, answers questions at a forum Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Photo by Rachel Johnson.
A candidate for the presidency of MWSU, Suzanne Shipley, now president of Shephard University, answers questions at a forum Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Photo by Rachel Johnson.

The first of three finalists for the new university president claimed to be a local girl who grew up in Lubbock, but her localness was truly confirmed when Robert McBroom, a physician and attendee of yesterday’s forum, asked Suzanne Shipley, president of Shepherd University, if she had a brother named Wesley.

“You probably remember me. My name is Robert McBroom,” he said before Shipley cut him off.

“Oh no, you’re Bob McBroom,” Shipley said. “He’s my first boyfriend.”

Shipley visited campus yesterday for an interview with the Board of Regents followed by the public forum, and despite wanting to see an old friend at the forum, McBroom also endorsed Shipley’s run for university president.

“She was always a strong presence. Not in the bad way. She was always a definite leader, both in church and in a lot of high school,” McBroom said. “I haven’t seen her in 40 years. I was taking a little bit of a chance, but she looked very familiar to the young lady I recall.”

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said the public forums are an important part of the presidential search.

“Any time you hire the leader of a public institution, you’re essentially setting a course for the institution. That individual needs to be thoroughly vetted by everyone who’s affected and it needs to be a transparent, open process,” Lamb said. “And that’s essentially what this represents. It allows the stakeholders to hear the candidate, meet the candidate and ask questions of the candidate.”

Shepherd University is member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges like MSU, and Shipley is president of COPLAC. During the forum, Shipley said the university could increase its participation in the council.

“Midwestern State could get a little more active in COPLAC in ways like always having good attendance at the winter meetings and summer meetings, which you have had some attendance, but also hosting a COPLAC meeting,” Shipley said. “It’s a really good idea to bring people from across the country to your campus and show off how wonderful you are.”

As a COPLAC school, MSU is similar to Shepherd University, a public university only 18 percent funded by the state, and in a short press conference before the forum, Shipley compared the state funding Midwestern State receives, about 20 percent, to the state funding her own school receives.

“They’re somewhat similar, but Texas provides capital funding as well, and we don’t have that type of capital opportunity, and I think you just have to get in and work with the legislature and help the state understand the needs that Midwestern State fills,” Shipley said. “Our legislature meets every year, so we get to know the legislature even a little bit better.”

Shipley also spoke about expanding the marketing for MSU to increase enrollment.

“I don’t know if it will be rebranding as much as reaffirming the identity of the public liberal arts and how we have a very individual focus and personal focus and small class size at a great price,” Shipley said. “I’m hoping to make it better by making it nationally and regionally better known. It’s a bit of a well-kept secret right now, and a lot of regional universities are that way.”

Shipley said if she were chosen, she would spend her first year observing the university and make sure she follows the recently implemented university master plan.

“I would follow the strategic plan as it’s written now,” Shipley said. “They’re very interested in a more residential campus, so they have more students living on campus and increased retention and just make student life more viable and enhance athletics and raise money from donors and connect with the university.”

If chosen, Shipley would also be the first female president of the university—something she said she would be happy to do.

“It makes female students kind of excited to see a female president walking down the streets,” Shipley said, “so I’d be happy to do that.”

Andrew Rogerson, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, will be on campus Feb. 25 for his public forums.

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