Commitment to Diversity and Innovation
Yolanda Juarez, an IWU math major and a member of the Class of 2017, says Jonathan has been an advocate for diversity. "I'm mulatto and a first-generation college student. We've never felt that he's not been supportive of us," she says of students from underrepresented groups.
Carney-Hall, who co-chaired IWU's Council on Diversity with Jonathan, says he values diversity of all kinds. "He understands it's not just about the numbers, it's about having an infrastructure in place to support students,faculty and staff from underrepresented groups."
According to colleagues, Jonathan is also supportive of innovation. Jerry Olson, chair of IWU's accounting and financial services department, calls him a Renaissance man who brings to Susquehanna a combination of skill sets. Not only did Jonathan drive the launch of IWU's new program in Design, Technology and Entrepreneurship; he also worked with donors to garner support for the interdisciplinary offering that marries the arts with technology.
Interested in providing students with opportunities for real-world experience, Jonathan was instrumental in bringing a Small Business Development Center to IWU. Olson also credits him with collaborating with the university's curriculum council, career development center and admissions office to establish an accounting and financial services program independent of business administration. That program has grown significantly since it was established in spring 2014, Olson says.
What to Expect the First Year
Jonathan believes the three most important ingredients for success as a president are the ability to communicate clearly and compellingly with a wide range of constituents; an understanding of data; and a deep and abiding love for the institution."Presidents are stewards of their institutions and the keepers of the institutional story," says Jonathan, who will make telling that story a priority to raise Susquehanna's profile. Other areas of focus will be improving the university's already strong retention and graduation rates, fundraising and increasing engagement levels across constituencies.
Deeply committed to liberal arts education and the role it plays in providing students with a holistic understanding of the world around them, Jonathan says there has never been a time when advocacy for the liberal arts has been more important.
Shortly after President L. Jay Lemons announced his plans to step down from the presidency, a search consultant called Jonathan and encouraged him to apply, saying Susquehanna was the right place for him. He was well aware of the university because he had known Lemons, as well as Susquehanna Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda McMillin through professional organizations.
He says that many things about Susquehanna impressed him, including its long and abiding commitment to the liberal arts; a commitment to experiential learning; its history as a DIII school; its student-focused approach; its impressive board; its membership in the Annapolis Group, which puts it among the nation's top liberal arts colleges; and the eloquence with which the search committee articulated the values of the institution.
Like that Sweet Briar colleague who recognized Jonathan's leadership potential 14 years ago, former IWU President Dick Wilson says the presidential search committee chose well.
"I hired Jonathan as provost and believe he'll make a good president. He has all the experiences and personal attributes you'd want in a president. Planning, budgeting and fundraising are the three big categories for presidents. Over the arc of Jonathan's career, he's certainly led efforts in all of these areas," Wilson says.
"Personally, he's engaging, authentic in his interactions and transparent in his decision making. He'll devote the time needed to know the campus community and the larger community in which the university resides."
Wilson has no doubt Susquehanna will benefit from Jonathan's leadership. "He'll get to know people and they'll get to know him. It will all unfold very naturally."