By Charles Meyers
On Oct. 28 the Board of Trustees announced their decision to renew President Stephen Ainlay’s contract through June of 2016, ensuring that Union’s upward trend is bound to continue. It should not come as a surprise to the student body that Ainlay is receiving the honor of the presidency once again.
Since his appointment in 2006, Union’s reputation as a prestigious liberal arts school has only grown exponentially. However, Ainlay is more than just a successful president from the Board’s point of view; in fact he is much more than that.
It is important that a college president be involved in school activities and the going-ons of day-to-day life because, without something to ground him to the reality of what it means for students to live and work at the college, making appropriate decisions for the institution would prove to be quite difficult.
Ainlay definitely fits this model. He is a professor of sociology as well as a chancellor of Union University. Being a professor keeps Ainlay actively in touch with the student body. Because Ainlay plays such an active role on campus, he is able to really understand what Union is and thus successfully run the college.
It is remarkable how many presidents on various college campuses are unable to connect with their student bodies because the students are unfamiliar with and intimidated by the administration. Because of his role and power, the president of a college can be a foreign and frightening figure, but this does not have to be the case. Because Ainlay works on campus and tries to stay connected to the student body, he does not appear as intimidating, but rather as one of us.
This ability should be an important factor when deciding who should be president of Union and it is good to know that the board values Ainlay as much as those on campus do.
It is obvious that Ainlay has a positive relationship with the campus as well as the students. He walks his dog around campus, teaches classes and even attends campus events. It is my opinion that it is of utmost importance for a president to be visible to the students who he is fighting for, and Ainlay does just that.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to meet everyone, and there are still many students who are not personally aquainted with our president. Now that we are certain he will see five more classes through graduation, Ainlay needs to have a sustained effort to meet and get to know the student body even better.