It takes a village to accomplish all that a president does in a school year.
From Founders’ Day, to introductory speeches and a state-wide tour, President Bill Pink certainly has a lot on his plate, and his new office is always ready to assist in scheduling and communications.
Terri Cook serves as the executive assistant to the president, helping plan campus events, such as Founders’ Day, employee picnics and holiday galas. She also sits on the President’s Council and the Strategic Planning and Resource Council.
Most importantly, Cook assists the president in scheduling meetings, outings and events.
“Scheduling for the president is a huge part of my job because his schedule is crazy and changes frequently,” Cook said. “So many people want to see him, and he is on a number of boards, so he’s got a lot of meetings. Generally, we are trying to make his life easier.”
Pink is a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s board of trustees, the American Council on Education’s board of directors and the Spectrum Health West Michigan’s board. On top of that, he is board chair for the Heart of West Michigan United Way and the board vice-chair of The Right Place.
According to a profile written on Pink by Ferris, he is also involved in governance and policy development at regional and national levels. Pink was also appointed to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation executive committee by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Currently, Pink has been serving in office for a total of nine weeks. Not only is he starting his first school year as university president, he is also beginning a tour around Michigan.
As mentioned in a previous Torch article, the “Link with Pink” tour is an opportunity for Pink to connect and “interact with Ferris alumni by sharing his plans and listening to their stories in order to shape and build the future of Ferris.”
“The alumni group that works under the university advanced marketing reached out for some dates that he would be available,” Cook said. “We went through the calendar and saw when there would be availability to do things.”
Cook says that all presidents go on tours at the beginning of their new position, as it’s important to connect with alumni. However, with as many requests as the president gets to attend events and meetings, it can be a lot to handle on top of the other work he must accomplish. Alongside attending meetings and events, the president is also responsible for making official statements on behalf of the university and responding to colleagues, administrators and the press.
Secretaries are commonly known for reviewing all communication that enters the president’s hands and assisting in writing responses to all official correspondence.
Maggie Walcott, who serves as an administrative assistant alongside Cook, assists the president in all that needs to be done, including the numerous messages he receives.
“Oftentimes, when we get emails from somebody that has a concern or a question, we see those first,” Walcott said. “Then we’ll send them on to the president, and then we’ll respond to the students at the president’s discretion. We do have a communications director here. Unfortunately, she’ll be going to a new position, but we had someone in our office specifically dedicated to that. So communications would be the person that would respond to any kind of public-facing inquiry.”
Walcott has had experience in writing statements for former President David L. Eisler. She says getting to know what Pink would like in regards to communication will be a learning process.
“We’re figuring out what his preferences are and how he likes to do business,” Walcott said. “We’re still learning with Dr. Pink, giving him some grace to find his footing and his role, and also giving ourselves the grace to find our footing as well, so that we can continue to best serve him in his position as president because really that’s what this role really boils down to.
Everything we do has to support him and make sure that he is the best that he can be at his job.”
It takes a lot to assist a president in all he needs, but with the experience Cook and Walcott have, they will do their best to help Pink accomplish more activities every day.
Pink will be in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 15, meeting with more Ferris Alumni, hearing their stories and sharing his plans for the future of Ferris.