Belmont community considers what it wants from a new university president
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Belmont community considers what it wants from a new university president

With university President Bob Fisher set to retire in May, the Belmont community reflects on the qualities it wants to see in a new leader.

Belmont’s Board of Trustees intends the next president “to be a person of the highest integrity and honesty, a committed Christian and an individual who is confident in their God-given gifts,” according to a leadership survey sent out Dec. 15.

And 779 Belmont faculty, staff, student leaders, board members, alumni, parents and community members responded to this survey with their own input about what they are looking for in Fisher’s replacement.

At the top of the list, over 81% of respondents said the new president should be a “culture and team builder,” who is transparent, collaborative and open to criticism, according to survey data from the Office of Communications.

The majority of those surveyed also marked the following as important qualities:

  •  “Leads by example, does not confuse leadership with power, committed to continuous improvement and avoids micro-managing” was marked by 70% of respondents.
  • “Has a passion for ensuring Belmont reflects a diverse community” was marked by 52%.
  •  “Humility” was marked by 51%.

The new president should have experience thinking strategically, communicating with clarity, building inclusive communities and leading positive change, according to more than half the respondents.

Though the university has not yet released information about who will be considered for Fisher’s job, Belmont students envision what an ideal candidate would be like.

For junior Marcus Knight, empathy is a critical quality in a university president — one that is part of Fisher’s legacy at Belmont.

“I’ve really enjoyed Bob’s attentiveness,” said Knight. “You can tell that he was there to listen.”

Sophomore Ben Johnson agreed, adding he would like to see a new president who is both a competent communicator and knows the demands of the job.

“The other major thing that I consider to be very important for anyone in public office is the ability to accept criticism and acknowledge their wrongs,” said Johnson.

Freshman Brooke Barkely hopes the next president will make mental health a priority as students continue to navigate college life in a pandemic.

“The mental, physical and spiritual toll it has had on every student makes learning what we love that much harder. I would want a president that would see this struggle and take that into account when managing our school,” said Barkely.

In the coming year, students and faculty expect the new president to address a variety of subjects, including “the student experience, faculty support, shared governance, leadership style, diversity and inclusion, future vision, Christian mission, campus culture and the response to the pandemic,” wrote Board of Trustees chairman Marty Dickens in the email that detailed the leadership survey results.

“I look forward to sharing more information with you as we continue our work to find Belmont’s next president,” Dickens wrote.

This article written by Anna Jackson and Sean Phelan.

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