Donohue announces new office hours

Alessandro Roco

Beginning next Friday, University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., will open the President’s Office to students for select office hours. The establishment of office hours is part of the president’s attempt to connect with students, something he said has been a challenge for him over the past several months.

“I thought staying in touch with the students would be easy, that I’d just walk around campus and be there,” Donohue said. “But meetings come up and people walk in, and by the time I’m done [with that], the day’s already over.”

To remedy this situation, Donohue has slated several days in February, March and April when he, with the help of Sue Winge, assistant to the president for research and communications, will block off two to three hours for students to come, sit down and voice any concerns they may have.

“It provides an opportunity for both the students and myself to just sit down and talk and for me to listen to concerns they have,” Donohue said. “I’m excited to see what people have to say.”

Donohue said that the idea for office hours came from a summer conference he attended at Harvard University for new university presidents.

The conference featured discussions with former and current university presidents on how to meet people’s expectations and how to deal with the transition into the presidency.

There, Donohue came across the idea of offering student office hours.

Students can register online for a 15-minute block of time on a first-come, first-serve basis. To register, students should access the President’s Office Web site and sign up.

The idea for online scheduling came from Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman, who also holds regular student office hours.

Donohue will hold office hours on Feb. 23 from 2-4 p.m., Feb. 26 from 7:30-9:30 p.m., March 16 from 2-4 p.m., March 20 from 3-5 p.m. and April 18 from 2-5 p.m.

Students who meet with Donohue will also have a chance to see his refurbished office, which was finished on Nov. 27. In addition to renovating the President’s Office itself, Donohue also had the offices of his staff renovated, a project that took only six weeks to complete.

This marks the first time the President’s Office has been remodeled for 30 years.

The old office was dark and more enclosed. Donohue said he wanted to open the office up to visitors and staff members.

“It was in major need of a facelift,” Donohue said. “The changes we made definitely open it up and give a different feel to the office.”

Overall, Donohue and his staff members seem pleased with the new look of the President’s Office.

“The office needs to be welcoming, but it also needs to say that this is the executive suite; there needs to be a sense of prestige to the office,” Donohue said. “It [must do] both because of the wide variety of people that come into my office.

“It’s not just necessarily people with the University,” Donohue added. “I’ve had meetings with Radnor commissioners, the wife of the ambassador to Oman, former congressman [Curt] Weldon, as well as other university presidents.”

“I really like the new layout of the office,” Winge said. “It’s very open, and it really opens up communication with everyone on staff.”

Donohue’s attempt to connect with students will come at the end of an unrelenting domestic travel schedule that winds down in June.

Since his inauguration last September, Donohue has reached out to approximately 50 alumni chapters as well as several donors, a schedule that several of Donohue’s staff members have referred to as the “never-ending Father Peter Road Show.”

“I’ve been traveling a lot,” Donohue said. “I’d say that on average, I’m only in the office about two to three days a week.”

Despite the strenuous schedule, Donohue said he is not fatigued.

Donohue also said that his receptions have been well-attended and that he intends to finish his alumni visits next fall, when he will travel to Ireland, England, Panama and Puerto Rico.

Donohue is also in the process of initiating a campus strategic plan.

Committee members will determine necessary improvements, including renovations and will report to Donohue.