By Alex Silber
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Dr. Kim E. Schatzel was inaugurated as Towson University’s 14th president Friday during a ceremony in which she called for more racial tolerance on campus and urged students and faculty to “grab the next 150 years and embrace the greater things ahead.”
Schatzel, who was appointed president by the Board of Regents in December 2015 and officially began her term on Jan. 25, told a packed SECU Arena that she is committed to transforming Towson into an inclusive and welcoming campus.
“Thriving inclusiveness will be the focus of what we do,” she said.
While discussing her prior work experience, Schatzel said she “was usually the first woman” placed in leadership roles throughout the course of her career, and admitted that “too often, [she] was made to feel unwelcome.”
According to Schatzel, the inequality she faced throughout her career has led her to place importance on eliminating intolerance at Towson.
“When our graduates leave our campus, they leave committed to eliminating intolerance and prejudice against others, and committed to creative thriving inclusiveness wherever they go.”
Making the campus more inclusive is what many members of the campus community are expecting from their new president.
Taylor Haire, a Towson senior who is interning for WYPR public radio in Baltimore, said she hopes Schatzel will strive to increase diversity through “fun activities” and “opportunities for the whole student body to get together.”
“The president needs to do better with diversity, but otherwise, she is doing well in office so far,” Haire said. “I want the president to improve what Towson is lacking, and make students feel more welcome.”
Trevor Kuntz, a IT support specialist at Towson, agreed with Haire, saying that Schatzel will take great measures to make the campus more inclusive. However, he said he also hopes to see Towson partner with more organizations that support the cause of diversity.
“[Schatzel] gives indication of being inclusive, which makes me comfortable,” Kuntz said. “I would like to see inclusiveness of people of color, and opportunities for better communication at all levels.”
Other students, such as junior and Towson presidential ambassador Bryanna Spencer, have seen Schatzel involved in numerous activities on campus, and take this as a positive sign for the future.
“There have been a few instances I have seen her on campus,” Spencer said. “I have seen her at ‘Set it Off,’ which is an event for Greeks, and she visited the Black Student Union Office on campus. She is making her presence known.”
While students believe her prominence on campus is a sign toward making the campus more inclusive, some staff members believe that she should be more involved with the faculty.
Jen Spera, a Towson academic advising administrative assistant, said Schatzel has been “visible with students and student activities so far,” but has not been too involved with Towson staff members.
“I would like her to be more visual and knowledgeable about the various departments at Towson and what we do,” Spera said. “I hope that she listens to the people who work in the various departments before making drastic changes.”
Senior and mass communications major Bianka Juarez added that she hopes Schatzel remains active throughout the community, and takes the time to address student issues.
“I think the president’s goal is to get her name out there,” Juarez said. “I hope her presence doesn’t die down, and she continues to be active.”
In her speech, Schatzel emphasized the importance of investing in the foundation and infrastructure of Towson to prepare for the future of the institution and the greater Baltimore area.
“Integrating technology and innovating pedagogy into our classrooms and degree programs was described by many faculty as daunting,” Schatzel said. “These ideas were brought to me by the provost, who after my arrival on campus, wisely advised that we have invested in classrooms and academic facilities, but our investment in infrastructure and facilities to support the faculty and their teaching, scholarly and creative work, has not kept pace at all.”
Schatzel also said Towson must do a better job of preparing students for a career so that they can get a steady job straight out of college. She said this could then benefit the future of the greater Baltimore area, if the job market and economy are thriving.
“It is time for Towson University to take a leadership role in examining and advancing what is now termed ‘career education,’” Schatzel said.