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First Day On the Job for ASU’s New President

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Author: Tina Joly

Release Date: Sep 18, 2012

Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr. spent his first day as President of Alabama State University meeting and greeting faculty, staff and students.

Monday, Sept. 17 was a typical day in Alabama State University’s Fred Shuttlesworth Dining Hall until ASU’s new president, Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr., strolled in, made his way through the food line and joined a group of students for lunch.

Samantha Jones, a freshman from Lakeland, Fla., was almost speechless when Silver stepped in line with her.

“I never expected the new president to come hang out with us in the cafeteria.  It’s very exciting to see him here getting to know us. It’s great having him interact with students,” Jones said.

Silver sat down and ate lunch with Joe Jones and six of his friends.

“I am thrilled that he decided to spend time with us. He wanted to talk with us and find out what’s on our minds,” Joe Jones said.

Silver said spending time with students is something he plans to do as often as he can.

“I want to make sure that our students can put a face with a name and also let them know that they are going to be at the center of what we do here during my tenure at Alabama State University,” Silver said. “I plan to be very open and transparent with them and have regular meetings with student leaders to keep them informed about the major issues happening on campus.”

Silver describes his leadership style as one of empowerment, and he said he wants to foster open communication with faculty and staff.

“I want to empower those who supervise staff to lead their units… with that comes accountability. So, I am going to provide for them the venue to be as creative and energetic as they want to be. But there is going to be a high degree of accountability,” Silver said.

Silver also describes himself as a “people person,” as well as a “bottom-line person.”

“I can talk to you; I can be friendly with you; but that does not cloud the fact that, at the end of the day, you are still responsible for getting the job done,” he said. “You will hear me use these words over and over again: efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. That’s my three-legged stool.”

Silver said there are many great things happening at the University, particularly the relationship between what he calls “town and gown.”

“ASU pumps $900 million into Montgomery and surrounding areas and has great relationships in the community. I think that’s a huge asset to this institution because I’ve always said, ‘A college without a community is in bad shape, and a community without a college is in bad shape,’” Silver said. “I’ve talked to the mayor, the governor and state legislators, and they know, very intimately, Alabama State University, and to me that’s a very good thing.  My job is going to have to be to continue those relationships, keep the lines of communication open and always be the number one cheerleader for Alabama State University.”

Silver also said he wants to bring more partners to the table to create additional funding opportunities by marketing successful academic programs.

“We have to find alternative ways to raise money and alternative revenue sources,” he said.  “There are new academic programs that have come on board; we can package those and begin to get industry and business partners to help. We have naming opportunities with new buildings that folks might want to sit down and figure out how they might want to leverage physical resources. We also have a robust athletic program here that should be generating more support from the community, more sponsorships and things of that nature.”

Silver said communication will be an important part of his administration. In fact, he held what he called “listening sessions” with faculty, staff, business and community members and alumni prior to officially taking office.

“What I was doing was setting the tone for open and two-way communication. If they felt comfortable enough to meet and talk with me, then that’s a golden gift - the gift of dialogue - and I wanted to give to them the gift of my ear… that I was actually listening to the constituents of this University,” Silver said.

Angelique Hilliard-Lawson, a sophomore from Chicago, said she is glad that Silver is listening.

“I talked with Dr. Silver in the cafeteria. I think this is a good way to become comfortable with our new president. I was very comfortable approaching him because he actually took the time to come to the cafeteria and listen to what I had to say,” Hilliard-Lawson said.

Silver said he plans to share what he learned at his listening sessions during an All Assembly on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 11 a.m. in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

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