In addition to the everyday activities that compose a university president’s job description, the president has the honor of serving as the face of the academic institution he or she represents. But if that face is seldom seen, the president’s ceremonial role as the most recognizable university figure can go unfulfilled.

Entering his fifth year, University President John J. DeGioia has achieved many things for Georgetown in the areas of finance, academics and administration. He has proved himself a formidable fundraiser an able administrator and he even finds time to teach a class or two. But we think he can be more visible to the community and thus improve his relationship with the student population.

We understand that President DeGioia is a very busy man, but we still have reservations about the frequency with which he appears around the campus at university functions and important student events. Of course, the president appears at student and faculty convocations and commencement ceremonies, but his daily interactions with students in past years have been noticeably limited. Other university presidents – George Washington University President Stephen Trachtenberg, for example – hold regular office hours during which students can voice concerns one-on-one with them.

President DeGioia should also be more available to meet and work with students. Any student should be able to tell a public university figure what is on his or her mind, just as constituents often write and meet with their state representatives and senators. But it is disturbing to discover how difficult it is for a single student to schedule a meeting with President DeGioia – it can take a month or two and several e-mails to his schedulers to even get in the door. The focus of a university official’s job will always be to maximize educational opportunities and the welfare of the university, but visibility and accessibility to students must accompany these responsibilities.

Throughout his years of fundraising and administrative work, President DeGioia has demonstrated a willingness to respect student views. In some cases, such as last spring’s “living wage” campaign, he has even shown himself to be open to enacting sweeping changes in response to high-profile campus concerns.

But by increasing his limited visibility, enhancing the transparency of his office and improving his ability to take less prominent student views into account, President DeGioia nevertheless has the opportunity to foster a dramatically improved campus attitude toward the university’s administration.

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