Way shares his vision for interim presidency with SRU

SRU Interim President Philip Way shares a laugh with staff following the State of the University Address Sept. 7.

SRU Interim President Philip Way shares a laugh with University staff following the State of the University Address Sept. 7. Photo by Benton Palermo, a senior communication: digital media major from Beaver. 

Sept. 7, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In describing the footing on which Slippery Rock University stands, Interim President Philip Way temporarily slipped into the role of a financial adviser: "The portfolio is doing quite nicely, thank you very much," he said with a laugh.

That set the tone for Way's remarks during his State of the University Address Thursday in front of a gathering filled with faculty, staff and students inside the Smith Student Center Ballroom.

Way began the address by acknowledging dozens of new employees before sharing with the audience a brief overview of his role as the interim president, including his assumption of all duties, both internal and external, of the office. Way was appointed interim president following the retirement of Cheryl Norton, who had served as SRU's president since June 2012. He will serve in the role until a new president is in place.

A national search for Norton's permanent successor is currently underway.

Way told the crowd his approach to developing an energized culture at the University for staff and faculty was built upon fostering a "constructive culture that heavily values the input of all who work so hard for the University each and every day."

Outcomes for successfully building such a culture include: earning trust in SRU's leadership; knowing the administration is focused on the individuals that make up its community; ensuring all persons have a voice in decision making; and fostering a sense of mutual loyalty between the University and its people.

"The keys to any successful endeavor on which we embark are communication, transparency and collaboration," Way emphasized. "If the University helps its employees meet their needs, the employees will help the University achieve its desired goals."

Way then spoke of his "continuity and change" approach to leadership, which includes SRU's need to stay aggressive and maintain its path of upward trajectory, led by the University's strategic plan.

"We've got a solid plan in place and we need to honor that and be true to its principles and direction so that we continue our advancement as an institution."

He then pointed to a number of the strategic plan's goals that will serve as points of emphasis during his interim presidency, including:

-Increasing enrollment while enhancing student quality and diversity.
-Offering a quality, flexible, agile and integrated curriculum and co-curriculum.
-Fueling learning with powerful pedagogies and transformational experiences.
-Maintaining an unwavering focus on success for all students.
-Providing a caring and inclusive campus, supported by quality housing, dining, recreation, health, safety and administrative services.
-Attracting, retaining and developing highly qualified faculty, staff and administrators who provide excellent teaching, scholarship and service.
-Increasing financial resources, enhance physical facilities, employ cost-effective technology, and adopt sustainable practices.
-Engaging alumni and friends in the life of the university.
-Supporting external communities through programming and expertise.

Way also discussed the administration's ability to help "pave the way for a new president" by experimenting with new ideas, measuring their outcomes and reviewing those with the new president.

One such avenue is taking advantage of opportunities for expanded collaborations among University constituencies with groups such as a President's Council.

"I want to solicit the opinions and ideas from a wide variety of persons across a wide swath of the campus. Doing so with a larger group should allow us to achieve our objectives better and deliberate issues with greater care and see the long-term with much more clarity."

Way added that he feels that through taking some initial steps, such as fostering personal growth through professional development opportunities and sponsoring more campus-wide social events, the strength of the University community will only grow stronger and provide for a more caring environment.

"I really hope by setting these things in motion, everyone will see the emphasis the administration wants to make on truly making our University a wonderful place to work and learn."

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robb.king@sru.edu