An Hour With Dr. Botzman

John Young, Reporter

University President Dr. Thomas Botzman appeared on WVIA-TV’s program “Meet the College Presidents” on Feb. 27.

“This has been six months in the making,” said Botzman of the interview. “WVIA always does an interview of all the new presidents. There are so many [new presidents] in the last three years. Almost all of us are new.”

The program is broadcast live from WVIA’s Sordoni Theater on Thursdays and features an hour long, in-depth interview with the heads of colleges and universities in Northeast and Central Pennsylvania.

WVIA came up with the concept for the show as a way to serve the community’s workforce and even prospective employers.

“In the summer of 2012 we floated the idea around and we thought it would be a great idea to focus a show on all of our wonderful colleges and universities in the area in hopes that employers and people here would see how well these kids are being trained in different fields and keep them in the area,” said WVIA’s Senior Producer Kathryn Davies. “The phrase ‘Brain Drain’ came up a few times. In other words, we’re educating all these fine young people and then losing them because they have to go out of the area to find work.”

The program took off from there, first airing Nov. 8, 2012. It has featured college and university presidents from around the local area including Misericordia’s last president, Dr. Michael MacDowell, in April 2013, said Davies.

Botzman said this was not his first time in the media.

“I used to do things in Latin America, Mexico specifically, and sometimes they would shove a microphone in my face just to have me say something profound because I was new and differentand interesting,” said Botzman.

“That’s a little different, being in the streets, other than being in a studio.”

During the show, Botzman answered questions ranging from his background and knowledge of the area to the history of Misericordia and the direction it is heading.

Seven audience members, some of them students, asked questions throughout the hour, and Botzman also addressed one viewer’s telephoned question. A question he particularly enjoyed came from a student.

“I really like the question of diversity the one student asked,” said Botzman. “If you think about that in so many different dimensions, there are all kinds of things we could be different about, and a campus is a safe place to talk about those things. That makes it fun.”

He added that diversity is the spirit of the university. “‘All are welcome,’ is really a part of what the sisters have been saying for a long time. This is a university that is founded on ‘We need to invite others in.’”

What students can take away from the episode, Botzman said, is that “the students recognize that a large part of their education is the life that they’ll lead after they graduate, the things that they do with and for others. The way we teach, in virtually all of higher education, is looking through different lenses at the same types of problems. It doesn’t all have to be a neatly laid out plan to be something that is very, very wonderful.”

Botzman said he believes the most important question was about the university’s direction with him at the helm.

“For me to say, ‘Here’s my vision,’ is in some ways not as joyous as a very confused ‘our’ vision. By the time we get to seeing what our vision is, it could be a whole lot more spectacular,” Botzman said.

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