On the second day of Florida State University’s (FSU) Presidential Candidate Forums, finalist Robert Blouin met with the university’s staff, faculty, students and community and direct support organizations in a grueling marathon of hour-long meetings today.
He answered questions from individuals from each of the groups, letting everyone get to know him a little better.
Blouin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of North Carolina, sees himself as an excellent fit, in terms of his experience, talent, skills, and passion with FSU, a university he sees positioned to obtain greatness in the near future.
Blouin assured faculty, if chosen he would look first within their ranks in building his leadership team, but he would also be looking for excellence from everyone he considered. He wants to maximize and enrich collaborations across the many different areas of study at FSU and challenge students and faculty to reach their full potential.
He said students want to be taught by those “developing the new knowledge.” Students come not to memorize information but “to have their thinking modeled” to learn to think critically and analytically. Faculty must “know what happened yesterday and today but also know what’s happening tomorrow. You have to produce students who do great things.
“You have to inspire students to see what the future looks like. If we don’t inspire them to be their best selves, shame on us,” he said.
Blouin says inclusion and diversity “is a big issue today.” Race is a “critical issue,” universities need to do “much better” in recruiting diverse talent, and supporting that talent so it thrives and he has decades of success doing so. He elaborated on several of the programs and initiatives he has lead, developed or been a part of. He said universities are trying, they get it, “but we have a long way to go.”
When asked about his support of athletic programs, he gave a big hat tip to former football coach Bobby Bowden.
“Were you here BBB (Before Bobby Bowden)?” The crowd collectively giggled. “(Bowden’s leadership) galvanized this community. Athletics is an important part of student life, an important part of the community and even for the state,” Blouin said. “But, you have to do it right —- pursue athletics in a robust way with a lot of pride,” he said.
Displaying his humor when commenting on the interview process he said he told his wife the presidential search was so much “in the sunshine” that when they went to the beach he would have no tan lines.
In a much more serious tone, he finished his remarks by saying the transformation of FSU in the last few years has been “ tremendous” and he feels privileged to be considered for the position.
The other finalists are Richard McCollough, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Harvard University, who participated in the forums yesterday, and Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, Vice President for Research, and Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Tulane School of Medicine, who will be in the hot seat tomorrow.