Gone are the times of University presidents sitting behind desks and being almost nonexistent to students. No longer are presidents some shadowy figure. Instead, presidents around America have been taking a more proactive approach towards their students. And the students are taking notice.
Since his installation in 2009, Mark B. Rosenberg championed a campaign to show students who he was. Through taking “selfies” and using social media, he has made his face and name synonymous with FIU. So much so that last week we reported on how a group of enthusiastic students at basketball games in beach clothing call themselves, “The Rosenberg Rowdies.”
Mark B. Rosenberg- look him up and you’ll find him on Facebook. The group known as “FIU Meme Generators” have also taken a liking to Rosenberg, posing with him in several meme style pictures and using him as a constant joke over the last couple of years. From buff cartoon versions of him with a chain around his neck saying “El Presidente,” to him showing the FIU meme generators from his balcony that “All that the light touches is FIU.” One Facebook user says, “I love our president; he’s the coolest university president EVER!”
In the social media age, this isn’t new. One president, Steven Knapp of George Washington University, has done just about everything to connect with his undergraduate students. He even went so far as to live on campus, just a stone’s throw away from a dorm notorious for partying. Another president, David Hodge of Miami University, in Ohio brought to his school an intramural broomball team. One president went so far as to allow nursing students of the University to watch her give birth to her twins.
Even so, why are our fellow students attracted to the idea of naming their group after their president? Do they feel like by naming themselves after the president that it will make him more sociable and perhaps listen more readily to students and their questions? Or do the students see him as simply a character to parody, nothing more than “sticking it to the man” while also trying to coax him into making himself look silly?
As university presidents become more visible, and with groups like the Rosenberg Rowdies forming, will more students start getting to know their presidents?
We applaud President Rosenberg and his desire to connect with students. While to us it does seem a bit strange to have a university president this in-touch with the students on campus, we see this as a possible turn toward the future of what university presidents
will be doing. They will be out randomly talking to students about issues on campus, attending events and socializing.
Presidents need to be social by nature and we think that Rosenberg is a prime example of the future of university presidents. Rosenberg isn’t being “Worlds Ahead” – he’s the world right now.