Enrollment was down. Again. Total enrollment had been on the decline since 2006. He could have chosen to not answer the questions; in fact, he could have refused a face-to-face interview and demanded the questions via email, where responses can be methodically worded.
Instead, on Feb. 4, 2008, Executive Vice President Dr. Phil Schubert invited an Optimist reporter into his office. He printed dozens of pages of statistics for the student newspaper and answered every question.
“The numbers from the last two falls have fallen short of our goals,” he told the 20-year-old sitting in front of him.
Administrators have offered Optimist staff members far less respect over far more trivial issues, yet Dr. Schubert’s integrity would not allow him to act conveniently. It is no surprise. His predecessor, Dr. Royce Money, vows each year to be just a phone call away from the editor in chief and supports the practical education provided by a student-run publication.
Schubert’s respect for student media isn’t the only attribute we admire. His detail-oriented nature has been apparent throughout the search process as he outlined his plans for the university, and his love for ACU is no less obvious. The affection shared among the Schubert family is evidence his persona is no façade. When his wife, Jamie, answered questions after the announcement Friday, she avoided using the word “I,” and it was clear from her responses she and her husband are a team.
“We’re ecstatic about it,” she said.
Attempting to predict the success of Schubert’s presidency is impractical, if not impossible. Often, however, a president’s character is more important than his policies, and if nothing else, the humility with which he accepted his new role Friday demonstrated his integrity.
The only problem with Friday’s festivities is something Schubert could have done little about. The 60-second warning at Friday’s press conference left reporters wondering if the next ACU president or Barack Obama was on his way.
Students and many faculty members also felt misled when they arrived at Moody for the big announcement, only to find it had been made an hour earlier in the Hunter Welcome Center. Administrators could have benefited from a dash of Sharron Drury’s candor.
Abilene Christian University’s next president must be able to preserve tradition and progress. Our experience leads us to one conclusion: Schubert has the drive and ability to humbly guide the university as president.