Matt Rogers, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Charlie McCormick, the second finalist to interview for the position of Utica College president, began last Thursday’s talk with students by bringing up the past.
He spoke about being named Schreiner University provost in 2009, a small liberal arts school in Kerrville, Texas. It was at the peak of the Great Recession, and colleges were receiving dire warnings about the future of higher education.
People across the country were left wondering, in that economic climate, whether or not college was worth the cost.
“After seven years, I remain convinced that it is absolutely worth it,” he said. “Both for high achievers and students who have struggled in the past.”
McCormick spoke for about 50 minutes at the question and answer session that was attended by about 20 students. He fielded a variety of questions and spoke in depth about his top priority—engaging the alumni base.
“Utica College has a tremendous number of alumni spread all across the country,” he said. “Some are connected, some are not. These are resources [for current students] and they can assist you in a thousand ways.”
His proposed call-to-action for alumni resonated with those in attendance.
“I liked the part of him getting alumni involved,” sophomore Bridgette McDaniel said. “Because there are a lot of job opportunities.”
Another session highlight that students liked was the way McCormick spoke about his wife Cayce, who sat right next to him.
Numerous times throughout the talk, he spoke of his relationship with his wife and when speaking, he often used the term “we” instead of “I.” He emphasized the importance of being a “presidential couple” and said their lives routinely involve campus events, such as attending sporting events or choir concerts.
“I liked that he had his wife so involved,” junior Sam Hennet said. “It was refreshing to see that he cares about her and she’s a part of the process.”
McCormick, who has served as a professor and a dean, has never held a job as a president. However, he explained that the current president at Schreiner University has been very supportive and that has allowed him to gain valuable experience.
“We’ve put our toes in the water,” McCormick said. “And I’ve loved it. I’m eager to do more of it at the right place.”
McCormick spoke of the delicate balance between the growing size of the school and maintaining the quality of education that UC has become known for. He referred to increasing enrollment as “a good problem to have.”
“Any institution that’s growing has to start thinking outside of the box to keep the intimacy and quality of education,” he said.
Sophomore Luke Pena attended the talk and was impressed with the passion McCormick spoke with.
“I thought he was good,” Pena said. “He seemed down-to-earth and a good guy. Being young, he looks like someone who can relate to the students.”
McCormick denied that this would in any way be a “stepping stone” job if he is selected.
“I hope I’m a good enough president that someone is trying to get me away from here,” he said. “But we’re ready to make this sort of commitment. We want to be here long enough to matter.”
As the talk ended and the crowd cleared, McCormick made a point of shaking hands with the students who attended, and thanked them for their questions.
“I thought he was really personable and his answers were genuine,” senior Claire Davis said. “I would like to see more of him, but I think today went really well for him.”
Featured Image: Presidential finalist Charlie McCormick answers a student’s question as his wife, Cayce, looks on. Photo by Matt Rogers.