President Maimon: 'Forever a Jaguar'
June 30, 2020
Dear GSU Community,
As a literary critic, I believe in the special importance of first and last pages. Here is what I did on July 1, 2007, my first day as President of Governors State University:
· hosted coffee for employees in facilities, public safety, and other areas who were on the dawn patrol.
· attended a meeting of the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC).
· telephoned local community college presidents.
· spoke with Lew Manilow to thank him for his sustained philanthropy supporting the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park.
The campus was quiet on that early July day in 2007. Most students in summer session classes would not be arriving until late afternoon. Dedicated staff who worked hard to keep the campus safe and beautiful deserved a first-day thank-you. SMHEC represented a crucial context for regional cooperation, and the community colleges were then, as they are today, among our most important partners. The Manilow family, having donated a major portion of GSU’s campus, created in 1969 a sacred space where students, faculty, and staff could live and learn in the midst of art.
Now, after thirteen years (26% of GSU’s 50-year history), I reflect on what has been accomplished and on what defines GSU on July 1, 2020. The campus is safe and more beautiful than ever. Wait until you see the new cafeteria! Until March 2020, our full-service, comprehensive campus was lively around the clock and throughout the year. Today’s quiet is for unexpected reasons—a pause that has tested the university community.
We have learned that Governors State University is defined by much more than the physical campus: buildings, prairie, and monumental sculpture. GSU is a spirit. It is faculty members finding creative ways for students to continue high quality educational experiences under conditions of a world-wide pandemic. It is students cleaning up shattered glass on Chicago’s southside and organizing talking circles to confront experiences of bias and inequality. It is faculty, staff, and students respecting GSU’s founding equity principles. It is the entire GSU community combatting systemic racism.
As I said in my 2007 installation address, GSU has never been an ivory tower; it has always been a public square, an agora, integrated into the larger community and dedicated to civic responsibility. GSU’s principles and accomplishments have at no time been more important as US higher education reexamines its goals during this 2020 confluence of disease, injustice, and economic turmoil.
Mort and I deeply appreciate your tribute to our “Legacy of Service” in the Agora and on the GSU home-page. We are especially grateful to the GSU Foundation for honoring us with a $100,000 contribution to the Student Emergency Fund in our names. Every day of my presidency I have tested each decision according to ethical and student-centered standards. It is gratifying to know that the Emergency Fund will assist GSU students during these trying times.
I am proud to pass the torch to Dr. Cheryl Green, our new president, a person of expertise and high principle, who will move Governors State University forward. Congratulations, Dr. Green, on your first day and on every day you lead this extraordinary university.
Forever a Jaguar,
Elaine P Maimon, PhD
President, Governors State University (2007-2020)