Thursday, January 17th, 2019

First presidency finalist visits

Francis Flisiuk | The Free Press

Posted on February 10, 2015 in News
By Brian Gordon

The first of the three prospective USM presidents, Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, met with student leaders, faculty and staff Thursday to introduce himself and answer questions about his vision for USM.

“Job one is enrollment. You have to fix enrollment. Job two is fundraising. Fundraising takes time, three to five years,” Sartarelli said. “USM has great bones but absolutely needs a new vision.”

Throughout the day Sartarelli was vocally adamant about recruitment and getting enrollment up by marketing to students.

“That dream of ‘build it and they will come’ – that doesn’t work anymore, you have to go out and sell it,” said Sartarelli. “We have to sell abroad and nationally – make our classrooms more diverse.”

“I have coined a slogan already. ‘USM Rising.’ Rising enrollment. Rising community engagement,” Sartarelli said.

The student senate ate lunch with Sartarelli and were all concerned about what his take of the “metropolitan university model” would be. Sartarelli’s vision entails not just reaching out to local businesses but a global reach. He would like to raise our student population from hovering around 7,000 to 10,000 and have international students be 10% of that makeup.

“One thing is for sure, we have to get our numbers up, it doesn’t matter what a metropolitan university is,” Sartarelli said.

Sartarelli wants to use his diverse international background working for global companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myer Squid, running their Latin American and Asia-Pacific departments.

Sartarelli is currently West Virginia University’s Chief Global Officer and Milan Puskar Dean of the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. He grew up on a farm in Brazil and until the age of seven read by the light of a kerosene lamp. Sartarelli finished high school in Texas and is still close friends with his host family.

“I am the epitome of ‘It takes a village.’ I’ve been helped by a lot of people in my life,” Sartarelli said.

If he was president six months or two years ago, he was asked, would he have gutted the university of professors and courses? Sartarelli said he didn’t like to answer hypothetical questions but he did say when you have a university such as ours that has 75% of its money connected to people, someone will be affected.

“If enrollment doesn’t go up there’s going to be more cuts in the future,” said Sartarelli. “For the greater good of the entity, it takes some pain.”

Megean Bourgeois, an undergraduate voting member of the presidential search board, broached the question of firing tenured professors by voicemail. Sartarelli said there needs to be dignity when releasing professors.

“It’s the termination of a dream. It’s shocking. There needs to be dignity and it must be done face to face,” said Sartarelli.


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