Finalist reflects on interest in education


Jason Howell

Eastern presidential finalist Sam Minner talks with students during the open student forum on Friday in the Arcola/Tuscola Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union on Jan. 23. Minner held an informal discussion with students, talking about aspects of his personal life and qualities that he would bring to Eastern, should he be selected president.

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles profiling each of the four finalists in the search for Eastern’s next president.


Sam Minner realized he wanted to work in higher education during his sophomore year of college when a professor opened his mind to new possibilities.

Then, after studying elementary and special education, he ended up helping other cultures find educational opportunities.

Minner, the vice president for academic affairs at Radford University, is one of the four finalists in the running to replace President Bill Perry as Eastern’s next president.

Recently, all four finalists came down to Eastern in order to speak with the students, faculty and staff.

During these open interview forums, the finalists were asked questions from the audience that ranged from their personal experiences in higher education to what they would do in order to help better Eastern.

Minner was the third candidate to come speak to the campus. Minner was a first-generation college student and received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Minner had also received his doctorate degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Minner said he became interested in higher education as a student.

“I really liked the environment, the teachers, the professors,” Minner said. “For me, it was really interesting.”

Minner said he has had many accomplishments during his career in higher education. During his open interview with the Eastern community, Minner mentioned a few of his accomplishments.

Minner, along with other educators, was a part of a team that had traveled down to Belize.

During his time there, Minner and his team worked along with the Belize government and had created the first university in Belize, called the University of Belize.

Aside from his work in Belize, Minner also cited his time in Flagstaff, Ariz., as another one of his career highlights. While he was serving as a departmental chairman at Northern Arizona University, he helped earn millions of dollars to help Native Americans, especially those from the Navajo Reservation, receive a college education.

Throughout his education, Minner has worked at multiple universities. He was a professor at East Tennessee State University as well as a dean for several years at Truman State University.

While at Radford, Minner focused on raising the enrollment rates. During his time, he said he has successfully managed to do so.

“We’re really focused on high impact standards,” Minner said. “I want to focus on activities that will be memorable.”

After successfully turning around Radford’s enrollment rates, if Minner is selected to be Eastern’s next president, he will be facing a similar enrollment situation.

During his open interview forum, Minner was asked a similar question in terms of what will he do to help boost Eastern’s declining enrollment rates. He said he wants to look at what the school is doing in order to reach certain demographics of students.

“In order to turn around Eastern’s enrollment troubles, the first thing to do is to take a look at all the resources to boost enrollment rates.” Minner said. “Next would be to refine those tools.”

Minner, like the other three candidates, will have a challenge ahead of him as whoever becomes the next president will have to tackle this enrollment issue that has been on the minds of many on Eastern’s campus.


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].