CUP Presidential Candidate Mohammadi Discusses Finding 21st Century Solutions to 21st Century Challenges

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Dr. Amir Mohammadi – vice president for finance, administrative affairs and advancement services at Slippery Rock University – spoke at an open forum on Wednesday afternoon sponsored by the Clarion University Presidential Search Committee.

Mohammadi is one of four candidates currently vying for the open position of Clarion University President.

According to Mohammadi’s curriculum vitae, his education includes a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Delaware State University, where he wrote his dissertation on affordability, accessibility, and accountability in higher education, as well as an M.B.A. from Adelphi University. His experience ranges from seven years at West Virginia University, first as Chief University Housing Officer, then as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs – Administration, Finance, and Technology, and finally as Associate Vice President for Generated Revenue, on to several positions, culminating in three years as Executive Vice President and Treasurer, at Delaware State University, to his current position as Vice President for Finance, Administrative Affairs and Advancement Services at Slippery Rock University.

In his opening statements, Mohammadi discussed the need to use twenty-first-century solutions for twenty-first-century challenges.

“At Clarion University, if I will be the candidate of your choice, we tackle these challenges together. Our focus will be to provide the best academic programs and education for changing needs to change students lives.”

He talked about the need for a university president to work as “Cheerleader in Chief” for the university, to unite people and work on “town and gown” collaboration.

“I would work to build a healthy culture, and we will all do it, again, together. Yes, I will lobby and do fundraising, so that Clarion will be the students’ choice when it comes to education,” he said.

The necessity of committing to a code of ethics was another issue Mohammadi approached, stating, “We need an administration that is committed to an established code of ethics. The guiding principles, what are those: honesty, integrity, trust, promise-keeping, firmness, respect, and prudent judgment far above self-interest.”

He also discussed the need for new programs and collaborative efforts. Reflecting back to his earlier statements about the need to find twenty-first-century solutions to twenty-first-century challenges, he stated, “We need new ideas. New ideas should not just come from top down. It needs to bubble up. We’ve got to unleash energy so that everyone knows they’re going to be heard.”

As in each of the previous candidate forums, questions regarding the importance of and funding for both the arts and athletics came up during the question segment of the forum.

“I’ll tell you, my initial reaction to that [question]: arts is a fact of life. You cannot have a university without arts in it, visual arts, performing arts. So, to answer your question, right from the target, yes, it is vital.”

He went on to highlight the importance of art in education, citing the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs to include art, stating, “In higher education, we have learned that you cannot teach STEM without adding an A to it, making it STEAM, because students learn differently, and art is extremely important.”

In response to a question regarding the importance of athletics to student recruitment, he stated, “Athletics plays a vital role. You know, the only place, next to the library, which is a great center, and the student center, which is another great center for gathering, athletics is where we get united behind the blue and gold. It’s the togetherness. Athletics brings togetherness and pride. I see the athletic department as literally a very important, vital part of the university.”

Another question approached the issue of what kind of initiatives Mohammadi would want to introduce to get Clarion’s “name on the map”. Noting that “the devil is in the details,” he talked about finding ways to put more money in scholarships, introducing new programs, and finding ways to “connect the dots” by understanding the challenges the university faces and working together to find solutions.

He reiterated the necessity of working together after a later question about the faculty’s role in shared governance, stating, “We’ve got to listen. So if we listen to what they have to say, if there’s a great idea, we got to do it. But if there’s not a great idea, we need to tell them why not. So they’re going to have to hear. We have to work together on that.”

Strategies for assisting underfunded and struggling students was another question topic.

“We’ve got to use student employment as a vehicle to give them jobs on campus, internships. We’ve got to give them the jobs they can do. Even the areas, like food services, we’ve got to work to make sure they get the jobs and the additional funds. We’ve got to find out when they leave, we’ve got to create an administration that, when the students are leaving, asks why” he said.

“In West Virginia, we created a faculty in residence. When I became the vice president for student affairs, we did that in Delaware as well. Faculty in residence, the professionals in the residence halls, worked hand-in-hand with the faculty,” he explained.

He went on to say, “We’ve got to mentor these students. That’s why people like you [the faculty] are so important, to mentor these students.”

The three other candidates for the open position of Clarion University President – Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Dr. Amir Mohammadi, and Dr. Dione Somerville — were each invited to speak at forums this week, as well.

Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Dean and a professor in the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University, spoke at an open forum on Monday, April 30.

Dr. David Urban, Dean of Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, spoke at an open forum on Tuesday, May 1.

Dr. Dione Somerville, Vice President for Student Affairs at Bloomsburg University, will be speaking at an open forum from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

All of the open forums are being held at the Suites on Main North Theater.

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