DeGioia views his presidency as a balancing act
University President John DeGioia has sometimes been perceived by Hoyas, including the editorial board of the Voice, as being disconnected from the everyday life of the student body. In Vox‘s previous life as a columnist, we criticized DeGioia for his distance during campus crises, including the DMT lab and noose-that-turned-out-not-to-be-a-noose incidents last year. In his semesterly interview with campus media last week, Vox asked DeGioia to reflect on his relationship with the student body through his first 11 years in the presidency.
DeGioia, who served in various administrative roles before becoming President, including as Vice President for Student Affairs, made it clear that he attempts to strike a balance between the broad responsibilities of the presidency and his desire to remain connected to the community.
Throughout his response, DeGioia emphasized the presidency’s rigorous travel demands:
This one’s a hard one because I have a couple of days of travel almost every week for our fundraising, and also representing Georgetown on a lot of different contexts. At different times of the year, the travel demands are very, very, very heavy. The fall is my favorite time of year because I genuinely need to be here more, I always try to teach in the fall (I do a first year seminar in the fall) so that requires that I be here every Monday. The work I try to keep so I’m here Tuesday, I’m often away Wednesdays and Thursdays, but in the fall I try not to do much international travel. From now until May it’s a lot of both domestic and international travel so it’s a little hard.
Nevertheless, DeGioia defended his record of involvement in student life:
I sort of track how I’m doing, I keep very close records personally, just for myself: how many events am I getting to, how many student events am I getting to. And I’m sure it would surprise everybody the number because I go to see a play or I’ll go see a game or I’ll go see a concert, and those who know I’m there are those who are at the concert, the game or the play. I do quite a few lectures, so speeches for Georgetown, I do more than 200 a year for the University, and many of those are for the University community right here.
DeGioia credits his passion for the presidency to the community from which he came:
The thing is, what I love most is the engagement here with this community, particularly the student community and so for me it’s what energizes me, what gives me joy, it’s why I do this work, but there are very competing demands on someone in this role and so it’s just trying to find the right balance…. I just hope that the way in which – I hope the demands and the responsibility of the presidency enable me to continue to deepen the engagement that I have with our community. Because it’s really – I’m from this community, I grew up in this community, I love this community, and I love engaging it and being engaged with it and it’s really just trying to find that balance.
Photo: Tim Markatos