Fourth presidential finalist focuses on outreach


Jason Howell

Guiyou Huang, presently the senior vice president at Norwich University and a candidate for Eastern president, speaks to faculty during the open faculty forum on Wednesday in the Arcola/Tuscola Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Jason Howell

Katie Smith, Editor-in-Chief

The fourth candidate for Eastern’s president emphasized the importance of internationalization of the student body, as well as a strategic branding plan in order to increase enrollment during a series of public interviews Wednesday in the Arcola/Tuscola room of the Martin Luther King Junior University Union.

Huang spoke highly of Eastern’s current strategic plan, having stated he believes enrollment will increase as a direct result of the plan being implemented properly.

Huang said his first priority as president would be to address declining enrollment.

“Enrollment for a public state university is tied closely to state funding, so we need to work on that,” Huang said. “Secondly, you want to grow enrollment through very aggressive marketing. You need to have a national and international strategy.”

Huang said he considers academics another one of his priorities, which he plans to address through what he calls the five I’s, or innovation in pedagogy, integration of technology, interdisciplinary teaching, international education and increasing institutional resources.

“You have great ideas; you have great people, but if you want to implement those ideas you need resources,” Huang said.

Regarding integration of technology, Huang recommended a Center of for Emerging Studies.

“We are teaching students to prepare them for careers or jobs that may not exist three years from today,” he said. “We want to prepare them as accurately as possible.”

Georgia Ryan, an office administrator in the nursing program, asked Huang what would be the most important technique he would use to increase enrollment.

Huang said Eastern must have a recruitment and enrollment team that is aggressive, articulate and knowledgeable.

“Eastern is having enrollment challenges,” he said. “(Enrollment) will come back – I have no doubt. The infrastructure is there.”

Huang believes Eastern’s enrollment will stabilize within the next year. In fact, Huang said between 2010 and 2012 the decline in New England, where he served at Norwich University, was the worst in a reflection of a national low-enrollment trend.

“We increased enrollment last year,” he said. “We have the second largest class.”

Huang said he was also impressed with some elements of Eastern’s strategic plan, including the formation of an enrollment leadership team and marketing action team.

“Now that your enrollment is a challenge, those two teams are critical,” Huang said.

Specifically, Huang said he would like to focus on branding Eastern as a university that is distinct from its surrounding competitors.

“Campus members want people to be able to tell about the programs, and the way the university is unique,” he said.

One way of doing this would be to target one nationally ranked program within Eastern’s curriculum.

“The marketing is all about branding, how you tell your stories,” Huang said. “Some faculty told me, ‘well, we are a hidden gem.’ Eastern is not that well hidden. You just need to tell your story better.”

Huang also encouraged international marketing in order to not only generate larger-sum paying students, but also to immerse Eastern’s student body with diverse cultures and persons.

Huang said raising funds was an art lost to state schools.

“I think the public (universities) have something to learn from private (universities) about how to run a university without state support,” Huang said.

He said university officials need to be more aggressive about seeking out donations not just through alumni, mentioning one of the largest donations to Norwich has come from non-alumni.

Huang also recognized diversity as an important issue to be tackled.

“Diversity is important; you do it because it is important, because it needs to reflect the national demographics,” he said. “I want to be at a place where there is diversity, where there is internationalization.”

Huang said he is one of few minorities working at his current institution, as Vermont’s population is mostly Caucasian.
“They hired me; I like it. I never thought of myself as a minority, but I am from another country,” Huang said. “I could’t care less of how I was viewed, I care about the quality of work I do.”

However, Huang said universities should be diverse and not isolated from the rest of the country.

“If you are half-hearted, if you are lukewarm about the idea, don’t even try,” he said. “A university ideally should reflect the national demographic of the population.”

Although Huang said he believes universities must better prepare their students for a realistic job market by helping them master up-to-date technology, the liberal arts are equally as important him, he said.

Huang decided to study English in the United States after being a survivor of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in Beijing.

In this case, Huang said he was perceived as a minority as well because of his area of study, as most Chinese international students go into science or medical fields.

“Discrimination is inevitable because we are all ignorant of certain things, so our education is to reduce any ignorance to a minimum,” he said. “That’s what a liberal arts educated person should be like.”

Huang said his plans for Eastern would be to have a diversity lecture series, programs to attract minority faculty, racial discrimination workshops and to establish a culture not only of tolerance, but also of respect and acceptance.

Discussion of Eastern’s mission statement was brought up multiple time throughout the day. Huang said he tries to avoid approaching anything from an “either or” perspective.

“I heard a lot about academics vs. athletics,” he said. “Let there be no doubt – these are all important.”

In tangent with Huang’s responsibilities in various administrative positions, he said Union activity is something he can speak confidently about from both perspectives.

“I was very much involved in the union activity,” he said. “I could claim confidently I have been on both sides of the union issues and I know them well. I know the pitfalls and the sensitive areas.”

T.M. Linda Scholz, a communication professor, said Huang’s ideas came from a place of result-oriented thinking.

“I like his emphasis on action because many of us are at that point where we have talked enough,” Scholz said.


Katie Smith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].