By Cassondra Kirby
When James E. Martin Jr. saw a job posting for Eastern’s vice president for student affairs position, he looked at it, read it and instantly was hooked. “When the position announcement appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, there were words in there that pulled me right in,” Martin said during an open forum Friday. For instance, student-centered education, working together as a team, leadership development — those are things I really get excited about.”
More than 50 students, student leaders, faculty and staff gathered in the Student Services Building Auditorium Friday to hear Martin’s ideas about student affairs. Martin, who now serves as vice president for student affairs at St. Johns River Community College in Fla., is one of three finalists in contention for the position.
The session gave members of the university community a chance to ask Martin what he could bring to the university and his thoughts about various campus issues. Brandon Williams, residence hall coordinator of Todd Hall, asked Martin how he would empower his staff if chosen for the position.
“My style of management is giving people the opportunity to do their job,” Martin said. “I am not a micro-manager, I never have been I never will be — I’m not the type to stand over your shoulder.”
Martin said he has learned staff members want someone who will enable them to do their job and support them, and said that is exactly what he plans to do if hired.
In addition, Martin plans to establish what he calls a “concept of customer service.”
“The concept of customer service is real in my heart and my mind,” Martin said. “What I mean by that is you guys, the students, are the customers.”
Facility customer service is good, Martin said, referring to Eastern’s new “one-stop shopping” Student Services Building, but he feels staff customer service also needs to be good.
“You can have the most beautiful building with the most unique layout, but the people behind the counters, the people behind the desks, the people you work with have to be customer service oriented,” Martin said.
Martin also addressed student concerns and questions on child care issues at Eastern, greek organizations, athletics and inside vs. outside classroom learning experiences.
All in all, Martin said he has one goal in mind for Eastern.
“I want to make sure each one of you guys will be able to leave here saying, ‘the years I spent at Eastern Kentucky University were the best four years of my life,’ that’s my goal,” Martin said.
All three finalists in contention for the position have now made their two-day visits to campus and Eastern President Joanne Glasser is expected to appoint the new VP soon. The student affairs position has been vacant since November 2001.