On Feb. 19, the second presidential candidate for Valpo visited campus. Numerous forums were held in order for students, faculty and staff to ask questions to and learn more about the candidate.
Andrew Finstuen, the second candidate, is currently serving as the Dean of the Honors College, Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and as a Presidential Fellow at Boise State University.
Finstuen has prior history at Valpo, as he served as a Lilly Fellow from 2006-07 school year, teaching in the history department and in Christ College.
At the beginning of the student forum, Finstuen started with three key issues he believes students are facing today: student success and well being, diversity, equity and inclusion, and cost and value.
In the Honors College, where Finstuen has had the longest tenure, he was able to raise $6 million in the last five years and created a donor base of 60 to 70 people.
“Not just for your typical tuition, I also have some donors who created an international travel fund… also for service trips and things like that,” Finstuen said. “One of the things I recently did was also create a scholarship book fund to help with those kinds of costs.”
Finstuen has been a part of creating a student equity and diversity team during his time at Boise State.
During his time, Finstuen has had past students come to him and address concerns about not being prepared for the workforce.
“I created a course in the Honors College that is rigorous, it's one of the most rigorous classes we have but it's all about having you give your pitch,” Finstuen said. “This has become one of their [the students] signature and favorite courses because we're just diving right into the very thing, as they’re juniors moving into senior year, that's going to support them as they move forward.”
Josh Ferguson, senior, asked about a responsibility centered management model, and how we could implement it at Valpo.
“A responsibility centered management is just one type of budget model that higher education uses,” Finstuen said. “On the academic affairs side, money follows the students, so where the students take classes and the credit hours that you generate, money follows.”
Finstuen believes that this type of budget model would not be the best option for Valpo due to it being a small institution.
As a follow up, Ferguson asked how Finstuen would go about making difficult budget decisions.
“I’ll step back to some kind broad principles that I think about when I’m making budget decisions. How does it connect to the mission of the place, is it going to be sustainable, and who is it impacting?” Finstuen said.
Junior Isis Zaki asked about how Finstuen would go about keeping in touch with students if he were to be offered the position as Valpo’s president.
At Boise State, Finstuen hosts office hours that are called “Free Time with Finstuen.” During these open office hours, students were allowed to come talk with him about anything, such as the weather or movies.
“I’m also familiar with programs, and I should know this, I’m not sure if it’s here, but presidential leadership opportunities for students,” Finstuen said. “So thinking about the ways in which you can create programming that would rotate to have students be affiliated and also gain some professional experience as part of what's happening in an administrative role.”
He would also be interested in having meals with the students and organizations on campus.
Student Chris Grimpe asked Finstuen whether he includes LGTQ+ students in the diversity and inclusion statement and how he would work to ensure their safety.
“Yes, we include members of that community on that… I have zero tolerance for any kind of harm to any student, faculty or staff member,” Finstuen said.
Jeremy Wu, a member of the men’s golf team, asked Finstuen his plans on increasing enrollment for the coming years.
One thing Finstuen mentioned is engaging students, faculty and staff in the admissions process. They would help tell the story of Valpo through their perspective and help relate with prospective students.
Another men’s golf player, Jack Juskow, asked how he could use athletics to build Valpo.
“My biggest donors to the Honors College are athletics donors who got introduced to the university, had fun at the athletic events and supported it and recognized how important it is to also support the academic affairs side,”Finstuen said.
Ashely Winiewicz, member of Pi Beta Phi, asked Finstuen what his connection with Fraternity and Sorority Life is like since it is a big part of Valpo’s campus.
Finstuen responded that he does not have much experience with this community, and that he will rely on those at Valpo who already know a lot about it to help him learn.
For Finstuen, the biggest lesson that he has learned while being in higher education is trust.
“Building trust with community, across students, faculty and staff,” Finstuen said. “I show up, I show I care and I follow through on what I say I’m gonna do.”