The next president of The University of Toledo should embrace its rich history and traditions to be sure students, faculty, staff and alumni feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, Dr. Christopher Howard said in his first presidential search forum.One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Howard is the second candidate to visit campus for open forums and meetings with University stakeholders. He is the president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
UT’s next leader, Howard said, needs to embrace a sense of Community, with a capital C, for the entire institution, as well as smaller individualized communities, with a lower case c, for specific interests and activities, to better engage students leading to improved retention and graduation rates.
“People at The University of Toledo have much to be proud of. An institution founded in 1872 that boasts so many great graduates, faculty, staff, coaches, etc.,” Howard said. “But do the students when they walk into the door connect to your long blue and gold line? Do they have a sense immediately upon entering this campus that they are part of something bigger than themselves?”
Howard, who opened his remarks telling the audience that he believed in the American dream and the power of education because he has witnessed it firsthand in his family, said that UT’s top priority is to serve students meeting them where they are and helping them get to where they need to go. But the University also has a role serving its campus community, the northwest Ohio region and the citizens of the world.
Howard noted that UT faces specific challenges with access and retention of students, completing contract negotiations with its faculty, ensuring the clinical operation is large enough to support the academic mission, offering unique valuable programming, and determining how best to fund operations. Smart change that is rooted in respect, humility, honesty and openness is the best approach to solve those challenges, he said.
He answered questions from the audience about the growth of online education, supporting staff, programs to help minority faculty, his military service, commitment to diversity, support of the arts and humanities, experience with Greek life, and the importance of academic advising.
Howard will host another forum Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on Health Science Campus.
If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Howard’s profile page on the presidential search website through Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m.
For more information on the presidential search and schedules for future forums, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.