At issue:New president and SDSU alumnus David Chicoine will replace Peggy Miller.
Our view:He has big shoes to fill. But his roots and experience will serve him well, as long as he doesn’t forget students.
We have a new president. Welcome back to SDSU, David Chicoine.
He’s young, yet experienced, and a Jackrabbit to the core – a South Dakotan and an alumnus. Since leaving us, he’s worked in technology and economic development. He seems the perfect fit for our newly-expanded focus on research meant to boost our local and state economies.
He’s worked in the political world of a large Division-I campus system. He knows how to fight and win the battles that need to be fought for this university.
And in student forums two weeks ago, Chicoine was smooth, quick to respond and personably direct.
He sounds like the perfect leader for our university’s next step. So what’s the problem?
The real question marks surrounding David Chicoine are how he’ll relate to students.
“(Students are) the one thing in my current position I miss a lot,” he said after the announcement.
We’re glad students seem to be a priority for him. But we only counted one single, solitary mention of students in his acceptance speech.
And it wasn’t in the list of campus groups with which he said he was excited to work. That list included faculty, alumni and staff.
But not students.
Granted, it seemed to be an off-the-cuff speech. But that’s almost more worrisome. When David Chicoine thinks of his new role as president, how big of a role do students play?
Maybe we should cut him some slack. After all, Peggy Miller left some very large shoes for him to fill. She was always available to students, ever-present at the admissions process. Love her or hate her, Miller was there – not stuck away in the alleys of administration.
We must remember it won’t always be the same with Chicoine. He’s not Miller.
But Chicoine would do well to remember that students are the heart of this university, no matter how many professors win grants and no matter how many discoveries are made. No matter how much we’re growing, SDSU is still a face-to-face campus.
Chicoine: Put students first, and they’ll love you. And not to put too fine a point on it, but later they’ll give you money.
You can’t go wrong.