By By Dena Tackett, Jamie Vinson & Jennifer Rogers
It took Eastern’s Board of Regents only an hour to unanimously pick JoAnne K. Glasser as the university’s 10th president. Glasser is the executive vice president for institutional advancement at Towson University, and was the third of five candidates to visit campus in the past week. Board Chair Fred Rice said Glasser should arrive in Richmond Sunday night or early Monday morning.
After deliberating for an hour, the Board came out of closed session and placed the call to Glasser in Maryland. Glasser enthusiastically accepted the position.
“I accept it Mr. Rice with pleasure and enormous gratitude,” Glasser said.
Glasser said she looks forward to coming to Eastern.
“I’m just so deeply honored and extremely humbled by the expression of confidence that the Board of Regents, EKU faculty, students and staff, the alumni and the entire Richmond community have faith in me,” she said. “EKU is a wonderful place as I found out through my visit, to learn and to live and to work.”
Glasser is not the first woman to be president of Eastern. Mary Roark served as acting president after the death of her husband, Ruric Nevel Roark in 1909.
Regents offered Glasser a four-year contract with a $175,000 salary. Contract negotiations aren’t complete, though, as Glasser only has a draft of the contract. The official contract still must be signed.
Rice said the Board was unanimous from the beginning of the meeting.
“Everybody in town just loved her,” Rice said. “She is very charismatic and really a high class lady. She really charms people and is extremely intelligent.”
Glasser will begin work Nov. 1. Until then, Interim President Eugene Hughes will remain in office. Hughes will get to stay in Blanton House until that date. Glasser will be set up in a temporary quarters at a local hotel, although Rice wouldn’t release the name of the hotel.
Glasser said she looks forward to meeting all the Regents and the rest of campus in person.
“I’m going to pack my bags and look for a flight,” she said. “I will do my best to make sure that I give the institution and the community all that it’s due. This is a wonderful institution, a wonderful opportunity and I won’t let you down.”
Glasser said she wants to “wrap her arms around the campus culture” and hit the ground running, but there is one thing on the top of her agenda.
“To find out where my office is,” Glasser laughed, noting that would probably be her first order of business. “I want to talk to as many folks as I can on campus and off campus. I want to listen, I want to hear what’s on their minds, hear what’s important to them.”
Glasser said one thing that attracted her to Eastern was the people.
“I couldn’t have found a community of people that were more welcoming or hospitable,” Glasser said. “They really opened up their hearts to me and truly bleed maroon and white for that university.”
Regents had nothing but compliments for the new president.
“She will bring an energy and intellect to this campus that will be exciting to watch,” Faculty Regent Merita Thompson said.
Thompson said she spoke with the provost, Faculty Senate Chair, former Faculty Senate Chair and the longest serving Faculty Senate member at Towson University before the decision was made.
“They all gave her high ratings for shared governance, hard work and compassion and intellect,” she said.
Regent Jim Gilbert said he thought all the candidates were strong, but Glasser impressed him with her energy and intelligence.
“I’m thrilled with this choice,” Gilbert said, noting that he had hoped the Board had an opportunity to select a female president. “I think she’ll knock some socks off both here and around the state.”
Gilbert said he felt Glasser would be an asset when it comes to making decisions.
“She relates really well with all kinds of different people,” Gilbert said. “I think she will bring a different and fresh perspective on making the kind of decisions in higher education we have to make.”
Regent Gary Abney said he also was excited to see a woman president. He said Glasser brings a “dynamic personality and enthusiasm” that will be important in dealing with external relationships, especially with the potential for state funding decreases.
“I think she will be an excellent constituent with all the community groups,” Abney said.
Student Regent and Student Government Association President Nick Bertram said Glasser will have to spend a lot of time concentrating on the university’s finances, among other concerns.
“At the same time, we have to reengage our community,” Bertram said.
“I don’t know anyone that can do that better than her.”
Bertram also said Glasser had been responsive to student’s concerns.
Bertram said he had already spoken to her about some of those concerns, including the plus/minus grading system. Towson University, where Glasser served, recently implemented a plus/minus system.
“She is definitely going to be a student-centered president,” he said.
He said that the new president’s strong points would be her ability to communicate and raise funding for Eastern.
“President Glasser had a fantastic ability in communications,” he said. “She by far has the people skills.”
Regent Cookie Henson, who said she is not easily impressed, said was loved the fact that Eastern would have a woman president, but that Glasser’s “dynamic” personality is what persuaded her to vote for her.
Regent Jane Boyer said she has high hopes for Glasser.
“I hope she will be the best thing to ever happen to EKU,” Boyer said.
Regent Daisy French said she also was thrilled to be involved in the selection of the first female president.
“I’m very comfortable with our selection,” French said.
Glasser comes from Towson University, which has a $200 million budget. Eastern’s is $147 million, but could be cut down due to state budget downfalls.
During her forum Tuesday, Glasser said that Towson had an enrollment of about 17,000. Although that is higher than Eastern’s, which is approximately 14,000 to 15,000, Glasser said the similarities were “uncanny” and what most attracted her to Eastern.
Glasser has been at Towson since 1993. Before that, she worked in Baltimore County Government as a labor commissioner and assistant county attorney. She was named by The Daily Record to the list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women of 2001 and 1997.
Glasser said her law background gives her an appreciation for the First Amendment, due process and shared governance.
Glasser, who was born in Baltimore, is a widow. She lost her husband to a heart attack eight years ago. Since then, Glasser has raised two children on her own – a son, 25, and daughter, 15.
Jan Greenwood, the consulting representative from A.T. Kearney that helped Eastern in its search for a new president, said that she knew Glasser from attending national conferences with her.
Greenwood said that Glasser was recruited for the role of president, and that she should be a very good fit for Eastern’s needs.
“She’s a real ball of fire,” Greenwood said. “She’s a lot of fun, a lot of energy. Students are going to love her.”