Second presidential candidate meets with community in open forum

Presidential candidate James Smith visited campus and talked to faculty, staff and students Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Fumi Nakamura // The News

Presidential candidate James Smith visited campus and talked to faculty, staff and students Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Fumi Nakamura // The News

Murray State’s second presidential candidate James Smith held an open forum for students, faculty and staff Tuesday to speak and answer questions the community may have regarding his potential presidency.

Held in Wrather Auditorium, Smith answered question ranging from academics to outside the classroom.

Smith, who is currently president for Northern State University in South Dakota, said he is familiar with Kentucky because his grandparents lived in the state, and loves small-town America.

Smith said there he believes universities are all about exploration and everyone is here to serve students. He said he believes it is important for students, faculty and staff to have fun while learning and teaching.

“We shape the lives and the dreams of student everyday when we interact with them,” he said. “Certainly in the case of Murray State with the history of teaching and the proud history of teaching.”

Such teaching, he believes, is driven by faculty who shape the curriculum, and who should see the University as a global web.

Smith focused heavily on international education, how important it is for the University to interact on a global level and to recruit all over the nation and world.

“We have to be global in all senses,” he said. “We have to be an enclave. If not, we will not succeed. This includes bringing international students as Murray State has done and as Northern State has done.”

Currently, 6 percent of Northern State’s student population of 3,500 includes international students, the same percentage as Murray State, which has 10,943 students.

Outside of the classroom, he said all aspects of campus life are critical, and stressed that athletics and performances are important in bringing attention and the community to Murray State.

“You’ve got two ‘front porch’ areas,” Smith said. “What do people buy tickets for? They buy tickets to see performances and they buy tickets to see athletics. Many people know Murray State because of your Cinderella run two years ago in the tournament. You can’t buy that publicity.”

Smith also discussed the inclusion of the LGBT community, but extended it to communities of all kinds. He said he wants all types of people at Murray State, simply because there are all types of people around the world.

When asked about tuition, Smith said Murray State should increase tuition to help bridge the gap between state aid and what students are paying.

“I think the more probably reality is to say, ‘what can we do with what we have?’” he said. “If 3.5 is available to tuition increases, I would encourage Murray State to look at that 3.5 and take it.”

He said there are development and collaborative opportunities for Murray State that could bring in some overhead dollars.

Morgan Randall, a senior for Murray, said she believes Smith makes a good point with his approach to tuition, but said a high percentage increase can scare current and prospective students away.

“I think he’s going somewhere with his statement on tuition needing to be raised,” Randall said. “Where I’m hesitant is the percentage. It would need to start out at a very low percent and slowly increase because you’re definitely going to lose students if you do too big of a jump.”

Smith also added what he hoped would be his accomplishment as president, which included staying at Murray State for 10 years, making the University stand out from being a hidden gem, supporting academic growth and students and to not have to worry about budget cuts.

The survey for Smith is live on MyGate and will be available until 11 p.m.

Story by Mary Bradley, staff writer