On July 1, Elliot Hirshman became the seventh president of Stevenson University, an institution that has spent the past decade building its brand and expanding its reach. This is Hirshman’s second tour of duty in Maryland; he is a past provost and senior vice president of University of Maryland Baltimore County. Most recently, he was president of San Diego State University.
One of the most ennobling aspects of the human spirit is the desire to make things better for ourselves, for those we love and for our entire society. Education provides that opportunity for individuals and for the broader community. In higher education, in particular, our students come to us at a very special moment in their lives—a moment of great possibility where they are learning how to think about their world, how to live with others, and figuring out who they will become. We in higher education have the privilege and the responsibility to help our students develop personally, professionally and intellectually so they can go on to make special contributions to our society. It is an inspiring opportunity.
What were you like as a college student?
Pretty intense. I was focused on learning as much as I could and engaging with the larger issues of the time, both personally and intellectually. I was fortunate to have many friends who supported me and helped me develop many different facets of my abilities beyond the classroom. I see many commonalities with today’s students as they wrestle with our society’s challenges and engage with issues inside and outside the classroom.
Tell us about the success that SDSU has had in student achievement across racial/ethnic lines and if you will adopt any similar measures at Stevenson.
Each generation has extraordinary opportunities and this moment in history presents the special possibility of ensuring that students from all backgrounds achieve academic excellence. This is an opportunity that many people have fought to create and we need to realize it. At Stevenson, SDSU and many other universities there are dedicated faculty, staff and students who are creating innovative ways to support students and to guide them toward academic success. Through these efforts, I know we are going to continue to make progress.
In what ways do you see Stevenson growing? Will any changes or additions be made to its unique career focus?
Under the leadership of President Emeritus Kevin Manning, Stevenson has had a period of remarkable growth. This growth reflects a need within higher education for the integration of career preparation with the rich experience and personal attention that is the hallmark of a liberal arts education. Looking forward, Stevenson will remain focused on the development of this distinctive model. In particular, we will continue to develop academic programs in the sciences, health, business, education, the arts and the traditional liberal arts, as well as co-curricular programs such as service learning, internships, academic competitions and study abroad that provide students with an extraordinary college experience.
What were you looking forward to in your return to Maryland?
We lived and worked in the Baltimore-Washington area for a decade so we are looking forward to reconnecting with many friends and family members in the area, and to meeting new friends. We are also looking forward to enjoying the four seasons, and of course, lots of crab cakes!