By Phillip Milano
High hopes and high energy greeted new Jacksonville University President Tim Cost and his wife, Stephanie, as hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni welcomed them at a reception Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the Davis College of Business conference rooms.
The event, sponsored by JU’s Faculty Assembly, Employee Advisory Council and Student Alliance, featured chamber music, refreshments and time for everyone to get to know each other a little better. After welcoming remarks from various campus representatives and words of appreciation from their new leader, guests mingled and shook hands with the Costs, sharing stories, offering information and even giving a little bit of advice.
“It feels unusual to be welcomed here, since I’ve really been here since 1977,” joked Tim Cost, a 1981 JU graduate and star collegiate athlete. “I know you’ve probably heard me say this before, but for me, this is all about students, faculty, staff and community. To get there, I don’t want to work top-down, I want to work with you together, this way,” he said, making a circular motion with his hands.
Cost, who took the reins from former JU President Kerry Romesburg on Feb. 1, lauded the JU faculty for being open-minded and “extraordinarily welcoming,” talked about working as a team with staff members and reminded students of the impact they can make in others’ lives.
He singled out JU Chancellor Emeritus Frances Bartlett Kinne and Dolphin basketball legend Artis Gilmore for their influence in his own life.
“If you as students don’t think you can make a difference, you can. You can go in any direction you want,” he said.
Having already sat in on four classes during his first full day on the job Monday, Cost assured attendees there was “almost nothing about this campus that I don’t want to get to know more about.”
“Thank you so much, and I look forward to working with and for all of you.”
Here are comments from some of those in attendance Tuesday:
“We all liked Kerry Romesburg so much, and now, here’s a good opportunity to move JU forward again. As I say, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. We are so very fortunate to get Tim at this time.”
Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne
JU Past President and Chancellor Emeritus
“Tim and I are very excited to be here and about how warm and welcoming everyone has been. Everyone talks about this campus as being a family, and the energy is exciting. Now, we need to get settled in for a bit and then decide how best I can serve the community here. I know how excited Tim is, and I know he’s the best choice, with JU poised for growth. His skill set really matches what JU needs right now. The University is looking at making more connections, and at doing more fundraising, and Tim doesn’t back away from accepting a challenge like that.”
“I’ve only heard great things so far about President Cost. I wanted to come and see what all the excitement is about. Romesburg did a lot to position JU, and this is a good time to try some new ideas and new leadership to take us in the direction Romesburg was leading us toward. Tim Cost is the best choice for that. He’s reaching out to students, getting to know them, and I hope he’ll hear their ideas and implement them the best way he can.”
JU Senior, Aviation Management
“I’m very excited about the energy I’m seeing so far. President Cost is getting out all over campus … he was even in the cafeteria yesterday. The visibility is great, and I hope his attitude is infectious.”
JU Director of Academic Advising
“The faculty have high hopes and look forward to working with (President Cost) as you help us grow – and grow our resources. To enhance student learning means improved facilities, improved labs, increased transportation for better outside learning opportunities and more. We are looking forward to your help.”
Dr. Janet Haavisto
JU Director of University Honors and Enrichment Programs
Chair, JU Faculty Assembly
“This is very exciting and re-energizing for all of us. He’s shown that he’s willing to listen. We all have talent that can help lead us on this ascending trajectory we’re on.”
Charles "Chip" Moore
Senior Associate Director Financial Aid
President, JU Employee Advisory Council
“To have someone who is an alumnus as head of the administration, and who has such passion, is interesting. It’s an asset, and means he brings a unique perspective. Because of his past connection to JU, there are things we don’t have to explain to him. He knows our institution and what it’s like to be here.”
Dr. Pam Crawford
Chair, JU Department of Mathematics
“I hope he does as well as Romesburg did. I like his enthusiasm, and the fact he is so approachable.”
Dr. Mike Nancarrow
Associate Professor of Mathematics
“We need someone to aggressively enhance the visibility of JU in the community. It’s one of the steps you need to take to get the funding to move us forward. We do well in academics here, and now we need the extra resources to upgrade the University the way we need to.”
Dr. Rody Borg
Professor of Mathematics
“I like him. He’s confident in everything he does. He treats the faculty and the students the same – with respect to everyone. He seems to have a good sense of himself, and is ready to take on the challenges.”
JU Junior, English