Interim President Bowling Shares Student-Centered Vision at Convocation Address
In his fall 2015 convocation address, Dr. Tom Bowling, Frostburg State University’s interim president, shared his vision of empowering students to become “the authors of their college experience.”
Bowling’s vision includes “creating the space for them [students] to reflect on what will give meaning and purpose to their lives.” To promote this vision, Bowling and other university officials have worked with Gallup, Inc. and Roadtrip Nation to bring a new pilot program to FSU.
This program, unique to FSU, would compare Gallup Strengths Quest information from freshmen with people profiled by Roadtrip Nation in order to develop similar paths to success.
Gallup, Inc. is a research-based consulting firm with a global reputation for political analysis and polling. Roadtrip Nation is a non-profit educational organization that profiles people living inspirational lives, including Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks and Michael Dell of Dell Computers.
“Helping students understand what makes them unique is one of the many reasons that we are now providing access to strengths for all of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Bowling. “I look forward to exploring ways to create more opportunities for us to expand our students’ sense of what is possible, and at the same time, integrate mindfulness and other contemplative practices into our students’ experiences here.”
Developing student leaders is another of Bowling’s goals. “Our University’s mission statement focuses on our commitment to prepare ‘future leaders to meet the challenges of a complex and changing global society.’”
“We can look to the findings of Gallup-Purdue Index to identify those experiences that will have the greatest impact on our students’ capacity for leadership and their long-term success in work and life,” Bowling said. The two most powerful predictors of success are having a mentor and being engaged in a long-term project based on a real-world problem.
Students must be able to take advantage of their experiences, but universities must be committed to enable these experiences.
“What does make a difference is the quality of the experiences students are able to have–experiences that are perhaps facilitated or enabled by the university, but are owned by the student,” Bowling said.
These “significant experiences,” Bowling said, build a life, not just a resume.
Bowling mentioned several students who have completed or are undergoing such experiences, including: a young woman is president of Best Budddies, an organization that works with area youth who have autism or other developmental challenges; the art student who is painting a mural on Broadway as a part of a public art project; and a student who made it his mission to bring the Water School’s Program Officer, Jamez Muzinga, to FSU so that students could raise funds and awareness for the program, among several other students.
“How can you tell if a student has had – or is designing – a signature experience? You can hear it in his voice or see it in her eyes. These authentic experiences are part of the DNA of Frostburg,” Bowling stated.
Showcasing the accomplishments of FSU’s students and alumni is Bowling’s mission. Within the next few days, Bowling said he will be emailing the campus community to request stories about current students or recent alumni. “They will be used to share the Frostburg experience with others.”
“They’re not waiting to walk across a commencement stage to make a difference in the world,” Bowling said. “We need to do a better job of sharing our stories. Let’s make sure we are exhaustive – not exhausted – by telling our stories.”
Featured picture credited to Nick DeMichele/TBL.