The College of Charleston community packed Alumni Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, to welcome President-elect Andrew T. Hsu and his family to campus for the first time since he was named the College’s 23rd president late last year. Eager to see and hear from the university’s next leader, a standing-room only crowd spilled out onto the portico of Randolph Hall and into Cistern Yard.
The Board of Trustees elected Hsu to the post on Nov. 28, 2018. He will officially take the helm as president on May 16, 2019.
“Today we celebrate a very special occasion in the life of our university. We get to welcome our College’s next president and his family into our own College family,” said Board of Trustees Chair David Hay ’81, noting the fortuitousness that the College would welcome its 23rd president on the 23rd day of the month. “We knew we needed someone who could take the College to even greater heights as we begin the next 250 years of our story. After conducting multiple interviews and reviewing the feedback of our campus community, the Board of Trustees knew we had found the right person, at the right time, to lead the College of Charleston in Dr. Andrew Hsu.”
Students, faculty, staff and alumni greeted Hsu, who is currently the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, with enthusiastic applause and multiple standing ovations. Hsu praised former President Glenn F. McConnell ’69 for his leadership in securing millions of dollars in funding from the state and successfully guiding the institution through its 10-year re-accreditation. He also credited Interim President Stephen C. Osborne ’73 with being a “steady hand leading this university since last summer,” adding that Osborne has “done a remarkable job in sustaining the College’s momentum.”
“I take to heart the responsibility I have been charged with and will do my best to care for this institution,” said Hsu.
Hsu also recognized his family in the audience, including his wife, Rongrong Chen. Looking at his wife of nearly 30 years, he said, “You’re going to make a wonderful First Lady for the College.”
As for the future, Hsu said he is focused on helping the College celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2020 and developing an ambitious plan that will position the College for success for another 250 years. And that plan, said Hsu, will involve ensuring CofC’s students are prepared to become future leaders on a global stage by focusing on what he called the four Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
As for his specific vision, Hsu said that while he is “full of ideas,” he wants to set priorities for the College only after receiving input from the CofC community, including students, parents, faculty, staff, donors and alumni.
“We must create a vision together that is shared by all of us,” he said. “It’s only through a shared vision that we can move forward effectively and efficiently.”
Following Hsu’s remarks, throngs of students and faculty optimistic about the College’s future under its new leader greeted Hsu during a reception in Cistern Yard.
“I think he is going to be a very diligent leader,” said Zaylee Butler, a junior double-majoring in political science and secondary education. “He’s really open to getting to know all aspects of the college, not just the academic part, not just faculty, not just the administration. He really wants to get to know students. He’s like a breath of fresh air for the College.”
Seniors Tanner Guthrie and Hannah Bentz also felt heartened by Hsu’s inclusive approach to leadership.
“I think the fact that he’s looking to collaborate with the current administration and learn from what’s happened in the past and move forward from that, while still bringing his own twist to it, I think is really exciting and reassuring to us all,” said Bentz, who is double-majoring in finance and accounting.
Guthrie said he liked that Hsu wants to make sure all members of the College community are included in his development of a long-term vision for the College.
“I really liked that as opposed to a newcomer coming in, being like ‘this is what’s going to happen,’ and then just going with that,” said Guthrie, a hospitality and tourism management and business administration double-major.
Astrophysics professor Jon Hakkila and Beth Myer-Bernstein, associate dean of the Honors College, both said they felt uplifted by the thought of having a leader with an academic background take the reigns of the institution.
“It’s great to have an academic. It’s great to have someone whose focus is on a future that is clearly going to be transparent and tied in with the academic community,” said Hakkila.
Myer-Bernstein said having a leader dedicated to transparency and building trust between the faculty, staff and administration is a key component in the College’s next chapter.
“I really think people are hopeful and excited about what he can bring here to the institution,” she said.
Featured image: President-elect Hsu thanks Interim President Stephen Osborne for his leadership and dedication to the College. (All photos by Heather Moran)