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"60 Minutes with the Prez" set for Wednesday

By Laura Berryhill
On September 17, 2002

SHSU students will get the opportunity to voice their concerns to the university's president this week. In an effort to get to know students better and answer their questions, President James Gaertner, with the Office of Student Services and the Department of Student Activities, will host a program called "60 Minutes with the Prez" this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater.During the program, Gaertner will speak to students about what is occurring on campus. "Dr. Gaertner really wanted to meet publicly with students and let them know what is going on around the university, how things are progressing," said Paula Vernick, the president's assistant. "He'll take questions from the crowd, and students can ask anything they want."Gaertner will begin the session by addressing the students about various projects going on around SHSU and update them about campus issues. He will then open the floor to answer anything students want to know about. "This is an opportunity for students to have a candid conversation with the president," said Carlton Green, director of Student Services. "There will be a brief introduction, and then it will be his time with the students."Vernick said that Gaertner wants to be able to talk with students in an informal environment. "Dr. Gaertner wants students to feel like they have access to him," she said."60 Minutes with the Prez" is open to all interested students. The program began last spring when Gaertner contacted the Office of Student Services to create a process in which he could get to know students. "He wanted students to get to know him," said Dr. Thelma Douglass, vice president of Student Services. "Last semester it was successful. Students were able to meet the president and he shared his knowledge and wisdom with them."This year, the Department of Student Activities joined Gaertner and the Office of Student Services in sponsoring the program. Student Activities hopes to attract the attention of student groups to the program, Douglass said. "He is very close to the Department of Student Activities and knows groups well."Douglass said she encourages students to attend so they can personally know the president, ask about campus issues and voice their opinions. "The program will keep students informed. It's good for them to know the pulse of Sam Houston State," Douglass said. "It is always good to know the mindset of the university, and the president knows the direction we are going in."Green agreed, saying students should take advantage of the president's invitation. "The university's president has a lot of contacts outside the university to bring it notoriety and prestige, but he is also very interested in the internal affairs of the university," Green said. "I can honestly say that he is the most candid university president I have seen. This is not just a showpiece; Dr. Gaertner has a genuine interest in learning about students' experiences here at Sam Houston."According to Vernick, there will be several times this semester when students will have the opportunity to meet the president. He will be attending various group activities, getting out on campus to meet students, and may even set up a program where students can dine with him. "Dr. Gaertner will be out on campus informally a few times this semester," said Vernick. "He really likes meeting students."Topics that the president may address students about include this year's record-setting enrollment and the projects approved by the Board of Regents last week. Another session of "60 Minutes with the Prez" will be held at noon on October 29 in the Lowman Student Center atrium.

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