By Phillip Milano
“You should stop by the class I teach.”
“Where do things stand on resources for the JU flight team?”
“Thanks for doing this and letting us know you’re into problem-solving.”
“I’m here to say the vast majority of our faculty want this place to improve and grow.”
“When will we start seeing some of the benefits of the ASPIRE fundraising campaign?”
“Do contractors get a chance at getting a graduate degree here as part of their benefits?”
It was a mix of greetings, smiles, questions, observations and more as new Jacksonville University President Tim Cost hosted his first “Open Office Hours” Thursday, Feb. 21. A planned 90-minute session went overtime as individuals and groups of students, faculty, staff and contractors drifted in to the Davis College of Business Room 151.
“I kept thinking, what’s a way to go about this so people don’t have to climb to the top of the Howard Building to have a talk with me?” Cost told one group. “This is just a way to make folks comfortable, and it’s paying off because people are being very direct and open.”
At times tilted back in his chair and smiling or laughing, at others leaning forward with an intent expression, Cost chatted with and took questions from each person who entered. In between exchanges he looked up his smart-phone calendar to arrange future one-on-one meetings with certain visitors, or punched up information on his iPad to address a particular query.
Cyntrice Thomas, a visiting assistant professor who teaches sports marketing and sports economics, said she came by just to say hello, but wound up in an eye-opening discussion from Cost’s perspective about how sports and business intertwine. Cost assured her he’d be stopping by her classes, even suggesting some names of major companies he’s had business dealings with that might be prime candidates for guest speakers for her students.
“This was just a great opportunity to make a few comments in an informal environment,” Thomas said. “He’s very conversational and relaxed.”
Cost plans more regular Open Office Hours as he works to get to know as many people on campus as possible.
“I’ve loved the candor of this first session,” he said afterward. “I’m going to do what I promised: shut up and listen. People are bringing their ideas forward, so we can keep improving JU together.”
Future Open Office Hours will be from 2-3:30 p.m. on the following dates:
Thursday, March 7 – MSRI 226
Thursday, March 14 – Lazzara 202 (Community Room)
Thursday, March 28 – Oak Hall MPR