President, students to chat

By By Jonathan Raymond, News Staff

President Joseph Aoun plans to spend more time engaging with students face-to-face this semester in a new series of sit-down forums called ‘Conversations with President Aoun,’ university officials said.
The discussions will involve President Aoun speaking with groups of about 20 invited students on topics ranging from student leadership to globalization, said Mike Armini, vice president of marketing and communications.
‘It’s an opportunity for students to interact with the president around ideas,’ Armini said. ‘He’s really an academic in the true sense. He really believes in the exploration of knowledge through dialogue, and this is just an opportunity to have him interact with students on that level.’
Armini said students will be selected based on conversations with faculty members, deans and the Office of Student Affairs to ensure participants with a strong interest in the given topic get to be involved. The News’ editor-in-chief, Kate Augusto, is one of the students invited to the session.
He added that the idea had been developed in the past couple of weeks, and that sessions would probably last around an hour. He said the discussions would not replace any of the president’s current interaction with students.
‘This is in addition to the many other ways the president interacts with students,’ Armini said. ‘He has office hours, he walks the campus.’ On Monday he’ll be at the Beanpot final. He really enjoys the give and take of ideas.’
Future topics for discussion have yet to be determined, but Armini said the administration would ‘love to hear from students’ about potential subjects of interest.
Some students expressed interest in such a plan, and said they would like to participate in one of the forums if given the opportunity.
‘I would be interested in something like that. I’ve heard of stuff like that in the past, and I’ve always thought it was a good idea,’ said senior economics major Dimitri Papadimos.
Papadimos said he thought it was important for students to have their input heard by the administration.
‘Sometimes at a major university students get shut out of the decision making process, and the faculty and the administration get to make all the policy. But it’s really about the students,’ he said.
Others said that, while participating in any particular discussion with the president was not of interest to them, the idea struck them as a good one.
‘I think the effort is nice,’ said sophomore business marketing major Stephanie Pratti. ‘I personally don’t have anything to say or not say to him, but I guess there are probably people who have things they feel are not being heard, so for him to put himself out there is nice of him.’
The meetings will be held on about a monthly basis, Armini said, and the first is scheduled for Feb. 25, with the topic of discussion set to be leadership.

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