Everette Freeman is president of Albany State University.
Q. If you were fresh out of school, what would you first do in searching for a job?
A. I would vet my resume with as many people as possible and especially with a temporary agency. Temporary agency executives have very sharp eyes for what a resume should contain. A solid resume is crucial to getting that all-important first interview. If the resume is weak or unfocused, the first interview won’t happen.
Q. What was your first job?
A. Cleaning the front and back entrances of the Holy Name Catholic Church Convent. I was about 10 years old. I earned 50 cents every Saturday morning for keeping the entryways clean. The Sisters of Saint Joseph were so sweet to me.
Q. What was the first thing you bought after you got your first paycheck?
A. I put the money into a savings account at Holy Name Credit Union.
Q. Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?
A. Jerry Israel, my boss when I was senior vice president and provost at the University of Indianapolis. Jerry mentored by doing rather than talking about how to lead. He did not have an ounce of “show horse” in him. He was and is a visionary and “work horse.”
Q. How has the recession
affected your Albany State?
A. The recession has forced us to think far more deeply about student success and making sure our students persist and graduate. We already rank in the Top 10 of University System of Georgia schools, but it remains a priority. It also has meant that we are not able to reward the excellent faculty and staff with merit increases and that has been painful.
Q. If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (email, internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be?
A. I’d return to the era when people took pen to paper and wrote letters to each other. Not typed letters, but those in flowing, loving cursive. I use to always enjoy receiving letters from my mother when I was in college because she has such beautiful penmanship.
Q. I am up and going by ...?
A. By 6 a.m. I’m not a morning person, so it’s a forced march for me.
Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?
A. Riding my motorcycle. I’ve met some of this country’s finest men and women at motorcycle events, gatherings, gas stations — you name it. I’ve never had a bad motorcycle ride in my life. Sure, some motorists in cars and trucks have been careless, but the ride itself has always been magical. Got my wife, Jo, riding her own motorcycle too.
Q. If you could take back one decision in your career, what would it be?
A. Not attending a Historically Black College or University.
Q. What’s the best thing about your job?
A. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden put it best: “Being in the company of such splendid individuals.” There is nothing more invigorating than working in a university setting.
Q. What’s the worst thing about your job?
A. I’m never really off duty. I’m always thinking about ASU.
Q. The most beneficial course you took in school?
A. When I was working on my doctorate at Rutgers, I finished all the required coursework and took two courses in library science. They were the hardest and yet most satisfying courses I ever took.
Q. What would be your dream job?
A. It won’t happen and I’m happy where I am, but my dream job would be President at Pepperdine University. Pepperdine sits on a buff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The view is breathtaking. The job, not-so-much.
Q. Finish this: “On the first anniversary of my retirement I see myself ... ”
A. Writing the great American novel.
Q. What is the one trait a business leader cannot be without.
A. Faith. Farmers have it or they would not take to the fields. It’s the glue that binds actions with outcomes we may never see.
Q. What do you see as Albany’s biggest economic challenge?
A. A job-ready workforce. If Albany Technical College succeeds in preparing all of our citizens for work, we have a good shot at addressing the poverty that plagues our community.
Q. Do you see a trend toward a merger of educational institutions?
A. Yes and no. Convergence would be a better description of what I see. The future of higher education will be determined more by the demands of the learner than any institutional arrangements I might desire. Learners increasingly will want to learn and study at the kitchen table or sitting in a cafe. Location. Location.
Q. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in education over the past several years?
A. The decline nationally in support for public-funded education. Granted a part of the decline is due to economic forces, but another portion is rooted in a belief that education is a private, family matter rather than a national investment strategy.
Q. What was the best vacation you ever took?
A. Playing golf at the public golf course in Maui, Hawaii, with my wife.
Q. Any parting words of wisdom?
A. Albany State University is a great place to work.