STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Southern University students began class on Monday, April 1 under a new leader.
Kyle Marrero assumed his position as Georgia Southern University’s fourteenth president. He spent the day on campus walking around talking to people - especially students.
“It was great to see them, particularly in each of the environments, whether it was the rec center working out or playing a little basketball, or in the library studying,” Dr. Marrero said.
Students we spoke to say a university’s president helps set the tone for the university, and his leadership will be critical. They want him to be engaging and receptive.
“You don’t want to get somebody in office that doesn’t care to get to know their students or the people they’re teaching, so I hope he’s involved in many of the activities we have,” said GSU Freshman, Taylor Pledger.
Others on Statesboro’s campus like the feel of a small school despite more than 20,000 students, and hope the president can help keep it that way.
“I’m at out-of-state student myself, so I didn’t know anybody when I get here, so making sure it feels like a safe environment,” said Bradley and Fabian, GSU Freshmen.
The president says he’ll jump into a strategic plan already in progress and help update the university’s identity across multiple campuses.
“We want to get a unified vision for the one “Georgia Southern,” the one “Eagle Nation” that brings the region together so people know that story and see us as one institution with three distinctive campuses," Dr. Marrero said.
Dr. Marrero previously served as president of the University of West Georgia, a position he held since 2013. Under Marrero’s leadership, UWG achieved institutional records in enrollment, graduation rates, degrees conferred, fundraising and annual economic impact to the region, according to GSU. Marrero was also named as one of Georgia Trend’s “100 Most Influential Georgians,” consecutively from 2015 to 2018.
Marrero and his family made their first visit to GSU back in January. Since then, the new president says he’s been studying up and learning a lot about the university, like its strengths and weaknesses.
Back in February, a group of faculty, staff, students, and people from the community, gathered and discussed those strengths and weaknesses, which was then handed over to the president.
“As I get to know Georgia Southern more, I see the challenges as well as the opportunities. That’s the important part to me, to look at the cultures of each institution, three campuses under one umbrella,” Marrero said.
Dr. Shelley Nickel served as interim president for the university. She now returns to her role with the University System of Georgia’s main office in Atlanta.
This week, Dr. Marrero will meet with the faculty senate, the Student Government Association, and deans from all the university’s different colleges.