11th University President Mary Ellen Mazey reflects, approaches halfway point

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President Mazey

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Since coming to the University two and a half years ago, University President Mary Ellen Mazey has tried to unify the campus, build the University and listen to students, faculty and staff.

“I just think it’s so important to reach out and make sure you listen,” Mazey said. “I think what young people need today is that personal attention.”

Mazey, the 11th University president, is approaching the halfway point in her contract with the University, but she believes the accomplishments made during her tenure are not hers alone.

“It’s not my accomplishments, it’s not one person,” she said. “It’s not what I can do, it’s what I can get everyone else to do with us.”

Among the University’s accomplishments in Mazey’s almost two and a half years as president are the faculty contract negotiations, construction of the Falcon Health Center, re-accreditation, recreation center renovations and improving the qualifications of incoming students.

“I’ve seen her do some pretty amazing things,” said Alex Solis, Undergraduate Student Government president. “She makes the decision that’s best for the University, no matter what.”

Solis has worked with Mazey for the past few years, as this is his second term as USG president.

“She really relies on her chief officer of each division to run their division and that’s great,” Solis said.

Mazey may rely on the officers to run divisions, but she knows she has to make decisions as well, she said.

“I think to do a good job here, I can’t have it all filtered,” she said. “I understand the position of president and that difficult decisions have to be made … I have a different perspective and only one goal, and that’s to build BGSU. I have to have a great understanding of BGSU to build it.”

To obtain a better understanding of the University, Mazey said she “hit the ground listening” when she started in 2011 and spoke to the dean of each college.

“[I needed to] get a feel for the culture and where the University is now,” she said.

Part of Mazey’s desire to “hit the ground listening” came from the process of being chosen as the University president. She mentioned one student in particular who influenced her during the interview process, Emily Ancinec.

Ancinec was a junior in USG on the search committee and Mazey said she expressed discontent about the University when she met Mazey.

“The campus seemed to be divided,” Mazey said.

Ancinec expressed her discontent because she thought “there was kind of a sense of apathy, and we needed a change,” she said.

Ancinec thought Mazey could help cause that change, and ultimately, she thinks she has begun to bring it.

Ancinec worked with Mazey as USG president during the 2011 to 2012 academic year and said when she graduated that spring, there was a “shift.”

“It took a while,” she said. “After a while you could tell there was a change happening … I felt like she got it, that students were the focal point, that it wasn’t just a business. I appreciated that she still took time to talk to students.”

Ancinec said she really liked Mazey and felt there was an open channel of communication with her, like there wasn’t with the 10th University President, Carol Cartwright, who served from 2008 to 2011.

“Looking back at it, Dr. Cartwright had to be all business focused, given where we were at … with the financial crisis,” Ancinec said.

Gary Hess, retired University history professor and author of “Bowling Green State University, 1910-2010,” said Cartwright was more of a “caretaker” president and unlike other University presidents, she didn’t have a vision for the University.

“The overall emphasis of the University tends to change with each University president,” he said.

Mazey changed the previous University vision to “build on our past strength,” she said.

“The strategic plan looks outward to building partnerships, it gives us a broader mission, vision and reach than the former one did,” she said.

She added parts to the vision about diversity and inclusion, graduate education, community partnerships and innovation, she said.

With the next few years of her five year contract, Mazey wants to focus on academic buildings, new greek housing, opening the recreation center, recruiting more adult students and increasing the quality of the freshman classes, Mazey said.

“I think it will continue to change, I think change is good for us all,” Mazey said.

David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association and professor of political science, shares Mazey’s optimism about change, but said there hasn’t been any improvement since the faculty contract was negotiated.

“Education can only become so efficient before it stops becoming education and starts becoming the University of Phoenix … I think real universities have small classes with competent professors,” Jackson said. “I’m not really sure what the vision is now.”

Jackson said he sees “bits and pieces of a vision” but not “how it will be implemented.”

“I think she has these little pieces of a vision which are not thought through,” Jackson said.

Jackson does count the faculty contract as an achievement during Mazey’s term.

“In my view, it took a lot longer than it had to,” he said.

Mazey said there is a lot to celebrate on campus.

“There’s something unique about BG … I think it comes from living on campus the first two years,” she said. “[We have] a culture that cares about the students, I want to build on that.”