CUP Presidential Candidate Glenn Discusses Communication, Community, and the Future of Clarion University

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Dr. Robert (Bob) Glenn, president of Athens State University, in Athens, Alabama, spoke at an open forum Monday sponsored by Clarion University Presidential Search Committee.

Glenn is one of three candidates vying for the open position of Clarion University President.

According to Dr. Glenn’s curriculum vitae, his education includes a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and his experience ranges from Director of Student Activities and Director of the University Center at University of North Alabama in Florence, AL, to President of Athens State University in Athens, AL, a position he has held for the last decade.

“I like to get out; I like to be with folks,” said Dr. Glenn during his introductory statements a the forum.

With introductory statements and various answers to faculty, staff, student, and community questions at the forum, Dr. Glen focussed on his belief in the power of people working together.

“I believe in what I do. I believe that a university is an institution that impacts lives, that the intersection of engaged students and committed faculty causes good things to happen, that we change people’s lives by what we do on a regular basis,” Dr. Glenn told the crowd.

“I believe that every significant accomplishment that I’ve ever been able to engage in has been done with people, not by me,” he continued.

“I also believe, very strongly, that an institution and the community it is a part of are inextricably intertwined. So it’s not only a matter of dealing with the problems on the campus, it’s a matter of understanding that the campus and the community are intertwined and that you have to be just as engaged outside the campus as you are inside the campus,” he said, wrapping up his opening statement.

The question and answer segment started out with a “hardball” question, as a faculty member asked Glenn about how he would help Clarion University heal the current rift between faculty and administration, while also questioning the somewhat rocky period he dealt with at Athens State, when the faculty senate voted to censure Glenn over leadership concerns.

Glenn addressed these concerns by talking about what he learned from that period in his career, and how he recommitted himself to keeping lines of communication open, while also noting that even through that difficult period, the university still managed to get through an NCATE accreditation, begin the process for getting approval for graduate programs, and add six new academic programs.

Some other questions focused on Glenn’s commitment to particular departments within the university, including athletics and the arts.

Glen told the crowd, “At my campus, the college of business people think I’m crazy because I spent all this money in the arts.”

“I’m a believer in the arts,” he continued, “My faculty would say, ‘we can’t get him off the arts.'”

“I’m a firm believer in athletics. I believe that it’s the front porch of the institution. It does a great deal in bringing people to campus as well as providing a sense of a rallying point for members of the campus community,” he also said, in answer to a further question about bringing Clarion back to a more competitive athletic level.

“I think having an athletics program is important. I think you start by making it clear you’re not in athletics just to have athletes on campus. If you’re going to be in an athletic program, you’re going to be in there to win. You’re going to do what is necessary to make your folks competitive,” he said.

Financial stability and fundraising were also topics of some interest during the forum. Glen answered a question about his previous success with fundraising, at length, sharing his experience creating, from the ground up, a fundraising program at Athens State, which went well beyond their initial fundraising goal. He did, however, admit that even with all of his experience, he is uncertain about Clarion’s current financial situation and exactly what he would do to create financial stability here.

“I don’t know if I can achieve the same results here, because you are a collective bargaining [sic], so I don’t hold all the cards. At Athens State there were things that I could do, and I could control that I wouldn’t be able to control here,” he said.

“What I can tell you is that in my conversations with the Chief Financial Officer of this institution, my very clear sense is that while the institution has experienced some difficult financial time period that it is stable at this point, that it is moving in the right direction, and that we still have a great deal of hard work in front of us,” he said.

Glenn did make it clear, though, that he sees Clarion University not as just a possible new job, but as a possible new home, in every way. He explained that in his current position, at Athens State University, he doesn’t get to interact in a traditional university setting, as it is a commuter institution, with heavy online enrollment, and a large percentage of part-time, non-traditional students.

“I don’t get the opportunities to interact with the campus community the way I would like, and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for that in a community where the institution can make a difference in the community, because whatever effects Clarion will effect the university, and whatever effects the university will effect Clarion. They’re joined at the hip, like it or not,” Glenn stated.

“I’m looking for a community. I think if you were to ask the Search Committee and others I’ve met with, the one thing I always ask them is, what is it like to live in Clarion? Because if I come here, I’m coming here to be committed to this place, university and community,” he continued.

“I’m looking for a place to settle in,” he said.

The community will have the opportunity to meet the other two candidates next week.

Dr. Martin Abraham is provost at Youngstown State University and has been in that role since 2014. His open forum is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on March 5.

Dr. David Urban is dean of Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His open forum is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on March 7.

Both forums will be held in the Suites on Main North Theater.


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