BY LAUREN VELASCO
Students were invited to Herriott Hall on Wednesday for “An Evening with the President.” Drake President Marty Martin, that is. Many students came with questions about issues, future career advice and what he loves most about being university president.
“It’s really impressive to see a university president be so involved with the university’s activities because you don’t see that with a lot of presidents at other institutions,” said first-year Claire Franksen.
Before President Martin arrived, Drake’s all-male A capella group, the Brocal Chords, performed and even serenaded him upon his arrival. Martin was also given his own Brocal Chords T-shirt.
Questions arose about issues students have on campus and what President Martin and the administration are doing to address them. Martin also addressed the Campus Climate survey and Drake’s initiatives to address inclusivity.
“I think a big part of it starts with who we are and who’s here and making sure that we have a diverse student population, a diverse faculty, a diverse staff,” Martin said. “A community, if you will, that really reflects the broader community.”
Diversity and inclusivity are just a few of the issues that students focused on at the event. Some students were excited that they could ask President Martin tough questions firsthand.
“He always seems to be honest with the student body about issues that are important to students,” said first-year Jacob McKay. “I like that he was so open about the issues and gave straightforward answers. This makes him very approachable and respected.”
The topic of Drake’s contract with campus dining services, Sodexo, which ends in 2018, also arose.
“There is a new advisory group of students that are sharing these concerns directly to (Sodexo) and we’re expecting them to listen and we’re expecting them to make improvements,” Martin said. “If they don’t, that will be a significant factor on whether or not we decide to renew that contract.”
Martin also gave students advice for their next few years at Drake and their future career. Before coming to Drake, Martin was a professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University for several years.
“It was nice to hear from someone who had a very diverse career talk to us and answer questions that we all had because he has been everywhere throughout his life,” Franksen said. “It’s nice to know that you can go anywhere with what you want to do and what you want to do may change as well.”
Students also asked what he liked most about his job. Martin talked about the variety of experiences he has as president and what he likes most about the Drake community.
“There are so many things I get to do and there is so much variety. No hour is like the other,” Martin said. “There is just this variety and opportunity to be engaged and to think of ways to improve Drake and make Drake even better than it already is.”