New EIU president follows his heart

May 31, 2015

David Glassman begins his tenure as president of Eastern Illinois University today.

After his appointment, the curious me wondered what leads someone like Glassman to seek this position that puts him amid the fires of the Illinois economy and budget, squarely in the middle of the challenges public universities face in attracting students, while also working within well-established and sometimes immovable forces within university cultures.

I enjoy learning about people, how they’ve thought at different stages of their career, what drives their thinking. So I reached out to learn more about Glassman, and chatted with him 90 minutes or so in his office at Bradley University a few weeks ago.

He is the first anthropologist I remember spending this much time with. That dominated our conversation, and I could have kept going just on that topic. Fascinating stuff. Eventually, we spent some time on issues related to higher education.

I thought maybe others would enjoy knowing more about Glassman, so I attached the profile I wrote to this introduction as a link below. I didn’t connect with some of the people I wanted to help me describe Glassman, but I’m pleased with the two people who participated.

If you’re looking for a lot of current events and issues, you will be disappointed. The purpose of this piece is not to dive into campus politics or budgets, those will come soon enough from sources that cover the university regularly, which I do not.

Rather, this is a story about one person. The story may offer insight as to how he thinks and will deal with issues going forward.

I found Glassman energetic and inquisitive. I spent some time on a bench in the quad area outside his office, soaking in a few breaths that make college life appealing while going through my notes. It was my first trip to the Bradley campus, even though I spent a summer living in Peoria.

I now appreciate more about anthropology and ways to understand cultures that came before us. And maybe how to piece together clues, facts, to arrive at conclusions. I learned a good deal, which made the trip worthwhile. I hope you enjoy the piece

By the way, it’s more than 3,000 words, so save a little time.


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