Students, faculty and staff excitedly filled Casella Theater on Thursday to see President Karen Scolforo speak at her first convocation at Castleton University.
Scolforo walked to the center of the stage, without a podium, which the theater department chair, Harry McEnerny, pointed out has not happened in the past 16 years.
“There was no barrier between the audience and her. She talked about how she wants to be available and she showed herself to be available by not having anything in front of her,” McEnerny said.
Scolforo began her speech saying how excited she was to be there talking to the Castleton community.
“This morning I woke up at 4:30 so excited to stand before you today and to be with my Castleton family, my tribe,” Scolforo said.
She said one of the things that she noticed about Castleton in the short time she has been here is how personal the experience is for its students. She said the “Castleton Way” is what makes this campus so special, along with everyone who contributes to it.
“You have an amazing faculty, very caring and focused on student success,” Scolforo said.
She also pointed out that the curriculum the faculty has created teaches students the top 10 skills needed to be hired after graduation in the year 2020.
“I feel very blessed to walk into a situation where things are going really well,” Scolforo said proudly.
During her speech, she paused to show “Together, We Will Change the World,” a video created to demonstrate who we are as a community and what we value. Unfortunately, there were some minor technical difficulties, but Scolforo handled it calmly.
“I really liked how she dealt with the glitch in the video because a lot of people would panic and she didn’t panic at all,” business department Chair Peg Richards said.
After convocation in an interview, Scolforo said it did not faze her at all.
“Technology and me have to love hate relationship so I’m kind of used it,” Scolforo said.
Students, faculty, and staff were not bothered by the glitch either and seemed happy to watch the video from the beginning again. Scolforo praised the audience for their patience with the glitch.
“Your reaction to that glitch, the Castleton Way,” Scolforo said with a big smile.
After praising what was already great about Castleton, Scolforo continued by talking about her plans for the university. She intends to create more partnerships with the community and keep students, faculty and staff informed every step of the way.
“It has always been important to me to have strong lines of communication with my students and my faculty and staff,” Scolforo said.
She said she wants to make sure everyone has a voice, which is why she will be putting up suggestion boxes in the library and the Campus Center for students to voice their opinions. There will be an opportunity every quarter for 10 to 15 students to talk to Scolforo face to face at what she is calling “Cocoa Chats” as well.
“I like how she is very collaborative. She wants to know us all,” said Director of Career Services Renee Beaupre White.
“I think the energy, the whole idea of teamwork, and the family aspect; it was wonderful how well that came across,” marketing professor Paul Cohen said.
Scolforo will begin writing a weekly newsletter for students called “Calling all Spartans” and one for faculty called “Spartan Insider,” which will be sent via e-mail every Wednesday. In these newsletters she will write about changes being made and will be responding to the suggestions students make in the suggestion boxes on campus.
“It is going to be my direct line to you to share with you some of the things I’ll be working on, on your behalf. It’s an effort to be transparent; it’s an effort for you to be really involved in your own education and an opportunity for you to give me feedback,” Scolforo said.
Her quarterly digital magazine will also serve the purpose of informing the community on what projects students and faculty are working on and their successes.
Faculty members have begun forming task forces to help facilitate change.
“Faculty are incredible at leading change,” Scolforo said.
One idea that Scolforo presented that some students loved was the thought that we can make a difference outside of the university.
“I really liked how her message is that we can change the world, even though we are a tiny university,” junior Jade Remillard said.
Student Mia Favretto felt the same way.
“I thought it was very inspiring. It has me very excited for President Scolforo’s presidency,” Favretto said.
Scolforo judged how well Convocation went with how many people stayed after to meet her.
“The fact that people lingered to get to talk face to face, that was really amazing. I’m super excited to have so many people stay behind to talk to me,” Scolforo said.
Everyone who stayed behind seemed excited about the new president.
“It was really good to hear her perspective on things and the future,” junior Rylie Wills said.