University president confident in successor’s capabilities

Austin Quintero

Suzzane Shipley, former president of Shephard University, and new president at MSU, answers questions at a  forum Feb. 14, 2015. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Suzzane Shipley, former president of Shephard University, and new president at MSU, answers questions at a forum Feb. 14, 2015. Photo by Rachel Johnson

President Jesse Rogers is retiring from his long-time position as president of Midwestern State in August 2015. This leaves the obvious question of who will be the next university president.

New rules, new policies, and a different form of structure are what rests on the restless minds across the university, with students worrying about tuition, professors curious about their curriculum, faculty and staff wondering about their jobs.

Rogers’ philosophy for education is to have integrity in teaching. He believes that students can never learn enough about different things, and has a strong belief on being interested in everything.

“Be interested in something, learn everything you can,” Rogers said, simply, bluntly and straight to the point.

These words are the ones Rogers has lived by for a long time, and he knows this is how he encourages new people whether it be his staff, students or somebody taking his place. Rogers knows his successor will be a great fit for MSU and will have the belief of integrity in teaching.

“For years presidents would come in and really change everything about the system,” Rogers said. “We have a wonderful foundation.”

“Whoever takes over needs to build on our foundation, that doesn’t really happen though.” Rogers said. “Most presidents today are usually more enlightened on higher education.”

Rogers said he knows that MSU has a  strong structure at the moment, but also is aware that there are things that they need to do for Midwestern that can help it grow.

“Universities are bigger than presidents, and I think most presidents will realize that.” Rogers said. He wants Suzanne Shipley hired as the next president in March, to understand everything about MSU and to understand that the university is the main priority. Everything should be focused into promoting the University in a positive manner.

Being the president is a job that Rogers never expected nor considered to be a part of his life plan, until it fell upon him after holding many other positions at Midwestern. When Rogers first took office, he was aided by friends, faculty and students he had worked with and taught for almost half his life. The new president unfortunately won’t have this advantage.

“It’s important for the new president to take special interest in every group at the University,” Rogers said. “They must come in with an open door and not be closed off to any ideas.”

Ruth Ann Ray, assistant to the president since 2007,  said she believes that Rogers’ biggest contribution to the school has been his outstanding amount of fundraising and hopes to see it in the new president as well. Not only is it healthy for the school, but also for the students.

“Students can benefit directly from it and continue to grow and expand their education resources,” Ray said.

The additions Rogers has made to the campus and the different colleges has been remarkable, it’s constantly growing and becoming more developed because of the money that has been raised. Ray being an alumni has given her the opportunity to watch this first-hand.

Ray has seen many accomplishments and struggles with Rogers as president, but no matter what goes on or how much stress he takes he always tends to bring out the best in people. She would like to see the next president be just as involved with the university as a whole and get to know how people work.

“They must come in with the idea of watching people and getting to know the personalities of the faculty and students,” Ray said.

Rogers knows that the job of being president is tough and stressful because of the important responsibilities for the university.

“Very rewarding job, very strenuous job, someone needs to be hardworking,” Rogers said.

“There are a lot of practical and political issues I will have to address with whoever is the new president,” Rogers said. “All of the commitments I’ve made to MSU Foundation and trusts will all be expected to still be carried through once I’m gone.”

The new president must understand that there will be a lot of people who have been given or promised something from Rogers. His said he hopes the new president will carry through with these promises to maintain the integrity of the school.

Rogers wants Shipley to get involved in the university, but he is aware that this won’t happen overnight, so he plans to help the president out at first to help them understand everything going on and she can get engaged with students, faculty and the university.

“This is the biggest and most important job the president will have,” Rogers said.

Apart from the straight forward of the issue, the most important thing to Rogers is the education.

“The curriculum is right and it’s modern,” Rogers said. “It’s all about the students learning the absolute most they can during their time here.” Rogers said he wants students to learn just as much here as they would at any other university, even D1.

Rogers also said he expects Shipley to get out of  her comfort zone and to connect with everyone on campus.

“Basically, just get out there and talk to students and faculty. Ask them their major or what kind of things they want from them. Also give them what they want to hear,” Rogers said.

It’s important for this biggest figure on campus to understand everyone below them, and to work hard to try and grant students and faculty their wishes.

“Really have an open door to try and get to know the faculty. It’s not going to happen quickly. It will be a process,” Rogers said.

He said Shipley must be able and willing to let faculty and students into her life. It’s the most important thing for him to engage with them on a personal level also. They have to be willing to create strong relationships that aren’t strictly work.

“Get to know your co-workers,” Rogers said. “Go to social occasions to meet students and faculty. I can’t stress enough how important it is for ‘face-to-face.”

Rogers said he knows Shipley will be a great fit for the school, and is confident that she will respect the continuing mission of MSU.