Executive Vice-President Rick Hurley will take over the duties of acting president today, following the resignation of Judy Hample.
Hurley, who will serve as acting president until July 1, sat down with the Bullet on Tuesday to discuss his thoughts on assuming the presidency.
With the school’s past two presidents, we’ve seen two distinctly different leadership styles. While President Frawley made a real effort to establish a visible presence on campus, President Hample preferred to work behind the scenes to get things done. In your opinion, how should a university president approach their job?
“Really, in both ways. Personally, I feel compelled to do the high-visibility outside work. One of the things I feel that the president needs to do is to increase the reputation of the university. In order to do that, I feel like it’s important to meet people. I think it’s important to interact with the students. How many students at other colleges can say they’ve interacted with their school president? On the other hand, this job requires pursuing agendas, ensuring students make it to graduation, pushing policies through.”
What is your primary agenda as acting president?
“Our short term goal is to get students through finals. In the next three months, I hope to focus on our priorities for the next year. The school is up for reaffirmation of our accreditation in 2013 and we have work to do to prepare for that. Assessment will be a major effort which is a process of self improvement that touches every department on campus.”
What is most significantly different in how you will be approaching the job this time around?
“Last time, I killed myself trying to do everything that I think a perfect president should do. This time I want to be more careful in how I do that. This time, I’m really going to pick and choose which tasks to take on in order to ensure the highest priority issues are being addressed in a more thorough manner.”
How much longer do you anticipate remaining an administrator at UMW and in what capacity?
“Just a couple more years. I want to make sure the institution remains stable. If I’m here as president I can do that. If I’m here as a vice-president I can do that.”
Walk me through a typical day as Rick Hurley.
“Well, I can tell you about today. I got up at 6 a.m. I had a phone conversation with the attorney general at 8:30 a.m. At 9 I had a meeting with my direct reports to discuss assessment and the importance of the initiative. From 9:30 to 11 a.m. I had a staff meeting with my direct reports. At 11:30 a.m. I had a conference with a parent whose two sons go to school here. For lunch, I walked across Campus Walk and bought a sandwich from the vendor outside and then I brought it back to my office and ate it while reading the Redskins homepage. At 1:30 p.m., I had a security task force meeting. From 3:30-4:15, I met with staff to discuss the Hurley Award. It’s 5 p.m. and I’m talking with you. Afterwards, I’m going to go home and pick up my wife and then drive back to school for the “Rosie the Riveter Great Lives Lecture.”
Considering the recently high turnover among UMW presidents, what steps do you plan to take as acting president to assure the UMW community, and even the general public, that our school’s leadership remains stable?
The answer to this question really rests with the university’s Board of Visitors. We shall see what action they take on April 9.