How would you label this fall semester? I would suggest starting with the terms “challenging” and “exhausting.”
For me, this is not a description rooted in my senior academic workload or the job of being a campus reporter. Instead, it’s based on a tough few months that comprised this fall at Seton Hall – for any student.
Together – as students, staff or faculty – we’ve seen tragedy unfold, feared for our personal safety at times and questioned University administration.
And though there is no immediate cure to fix Seton Hall’s perceived flaws, there is one thing that will help – choosing a University president to lead the way.
It’s easier than you may think.
Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban, the current interim president, is the right choice for the job on a permanent basis.
Sure, we all know that the University by-laws dictate our leader be a Catholic priest, but this circumstance certainly warrants an exception.
Esteban was there, with all of us, to grieve after the death of sophomore Jessica Moore. On the day after the shooting incident, I met him outside the Ring Building as he answered questions for the local and national media. He was emotional and honest, yet strong – leadership personified.
It did not stop there in the wake of tragedy. From the prayer services held on campus to a University Day under a somber mood, he has brought the community together when it had to be and provided guidance for those looking for answers.
He also has legitimate goals for the Hall, ideas he shared with The Setonian in an extensive video interview on Sept. 22. From academics to diversity within the student body, Esteban has a dedicated plan to elevate Seton Hall as a university – a concept beyond integral after the whirlwind of the last four months.
Even by the simplest actions, I have been impressed by Esteban throughout the semester. Just a few weeks ago, I saw him in the U.S. Virgin Islands during the Paradise Jam tournament that our men’s basketball team participated in.
I thought almost immediately that he deserved the break – that a tropical vacation was one of the perks for being interim president.
Yet much to my surprise, he wasn’t there for the entire tournament – instead making it back to South Orange to catch the women’s basketball team in action at Walsh Gym a day later. Esteban was even sporting matching Seton Hall sweatshirts with his wife in the stands according to someone at the game.
Trading the beaches of St. Thomas for a chilly November night in New Jersey tells me a lot about Esteban’s character and commitment to the job he’s holding, albeit on an interim basis.
And, to that end, there’s another wild card involving his current role. The University’s administration could choose to go a different direction for a president at any time – open another national search, promote a priest from within the community, etc.
I do believe then that Esteban would stick to his word and return to the position of Provost. But how long before another institution sees his leadership potential, experience and decided to make him an offer?
I return back to the notions of being exhausted after this very challenging stretch of my Seton Hall career. With that in mind, I am confident that the spring semester will be much better, with less distraction and reduced turmoil for the community to grapple with.
But a set leader would be a good start. Here is to hoping that a broadcast e-mail winds up in our inboxes this winter break –stating Esteban’s “interim” title has changed.
I have no personal doubts that he is the man for the job – the one who can help us move forward from the fall of 2010.
Editor’s note: The opinions of this column do not necessarily reflect that of The Setonian’s Editorial Board.
Brian Wisowaty is a senior journalism major from Matawan, NJ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.