Walk with the President gives students ready access to leader

September 4, 2014 | UToday
By Cynthia Nowak



What’s the best way for a university president to find out what students are thinking?

Interim President Nagi Naganathan and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Kaye Patten Wallace talked with students recently on Centennial Mall.

Interim President Nagi Naganathan and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Kaye Patten Wallace talked with students recently on Centennial Mall.

For Dr. Nagi Naganathan, the answer has a straightforward simplicity, not unlike the UT interim president himself: Go where the students are and make yourself available.

The result is Walk with the President. Already under way since late August, Walk with the President is an initiative with two main goals: to allow students regular and informal access to President Nagi (as he prefers to be called) and to give the interim leader a chance to at least figuratively walk a mile in students’ shoes.

“Walk with the President eliminates some of the formal mystique that surrounds any administrative office for many students, ” Naganathan said. “I believe that students will benefit from the chance to connect with me in more casual settings.

“I know I certainly hope to benefit from the conversations that I anticipate,” he added.

Walk with the President will focus on places and events where students are likely to be, explained Dr. Kaye Patten Wallace, senior vice president for student affairs. “By choosing venues with a strong student appeal, we hope to generate a genuine and open exchange of ideas,” she said.

Students won’t always literally walk with President Nagi during the public events, she added: “On Monday, September 8, for example, President Nagi will have a lunch table at the South Dining Room of the Student Union. Students can stop by to say hello, ask questions, or even enjoy lunch with him if there’s room at the table — we expect it to be pretty popular.”

The Sept. 8 Walk with the President event will run from noon to 1 p.m.

With plans for “walks” throughout the academic year, two more are scheduled now:

• Tuesday, Sept. 9 — Student Government meeting in Student Union Room 2592 at 8:15 p.m.

• Tuesday, Sept. 16 — Car Bash on Centennial Mall from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Additional events will be publicized through UT social media and University communications.