#SDSUPresidentSearch: John Mason Jr.

John Mason Jr.’s philosophy if he were to become president would be to be “holistically involved” in all student activity.

Mason answered questions from students during an hour-long interview on April 21.

Currently, Mason serves as the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University in Alabama. His role is to collect funding and support from industries and corporations.

Mason has a Ph.D in civil engineering from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in transportation engineering and bachelor’s degree in transportation

Mason said his philosophy is “to listen first so I can learn and then I can lead.” He wants to listen to the concerns of the students and then make a decision based on the needs.

In addition to students bringing concerns to him, he also wants them to bring recommendations on what could be changed.

“My background and cultural approach is to be open and transparent,” Mason said, except in situations that require confidentiality and delicacy.

His top concern is that “every student feels safe and secure, then we work on academics.”

Mason also emphasized the importance of communication.

“Over time my role would be constant communication with the students,” he said.

Mason asked students if they felt comfortable on and off campus. Student responded by saying they felt welcomed and embraced by the community.

When asked about how he would grow SDSU’s academic programs, he said faculty are essential for student success.

“You need the smartest minds teaching the smartest students,” Mason said.

He said faculty “create new knowledge.” The faculty must know their field and then they need to spread that knowledge to their students.

“Student-centric for success but you need the faculty to guide the students to success,” Mason said. “To me, the students are the lifeblood of the university. What we produce is academic scholars.”

Mason was also asked questions related to diversity, underrepresented communities, tribal populations, tuition and the humanities.

Mason said he has not interacted with tribal communities, but he has worked with other underrepresented groups.

“The inclusiveness is definitely in my portfolio,” Mason said. At one of the previous universities he worked at, he helped to create a diversity award and diversity institute.

In his closing statement, Mason welcomed “the opportunity” to be the president at SDSU.

“I don’t want to come here and destroy anything,” Mason said. “We need to keep on that vector.”