President Stacey Robertson Begins her Role as Widener’s New Leader
Stacey Robertson arrives today as Widener’s 11th president. She comes to the university after serving five years as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she was also a professor of history. Robertson is an accomplished leader with impressive experience in strategic planning, hiring practices that support and promote candidates from under-represented groups, and developing curriculum that prepares students for success in a global workspace.
We caught up with her as she was preparing to assume the presidency, to chat about everything from her immediate goals to what she’s reading and watching on Netflix.
What drew you to Widener?
Everything! But if I had to narrow it down, I’d highlight three areas. First, Widener’s entire community is relentlessly committed to transforming students’ lives. This is evident everywhere – from the curriculum and the co-curriculum, to mentorship and career opportunities. Second, Widener’s history and culture is grounded in innovation and agility. In an industry that is noted for its hesitancy to change, I found Widener’s adaptability refreshing and enticing. Finally, Widener lives into its values. People care about and for each other. The “Best Colleges To Work For” recognition says so much about the community. Brilliant teachers, dedicated scholars, and inspiring staff collaborate in a labor of love to empower our community of learners to discover and create better futures.
What are you passionate about?
Making the world a better place. Every moment is an opportunity and higher education is the perfect place to work toward this goal. What an incredible privilege to work in an arena where learning is our reason for being! Where respect, excellence, and integrity are the values that guide our everyday lives and where we all get to improve together as a community! As an historian, I am also passionate about understanding how our past can inform our present and future, especially as it relates to equity, justice, and belonging.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I am an avid reader – both fiction and nonfiction. I usually have one book I’m listening to and another I’m reading as I wind down in the evenings. I also love experiencing nature in all its many forms because it helps me to slow down and be more mindful. I like traveling, sports, music (especially ‘80s), and dancing.
What are you looking forward to about living in the Philadelphia/Chester area?
There are so many things! The array of cultural opportunities are endless and I’m especially eager to explore museums and attend theater productions. There are historical exhibits and libraries I’m excited to revisit and share with my husband. I’m looking forward to hiking around the region and taking advantage of professional sports opportunities, especially the Philadelphia Union.
What are you watching and reading right now?
I am currently reading former Widener President Robert Bruce’s book, Acting on Promise, which offers a priceless recent history of Widener. I am listening to a beautiful historical novel about Poland during WWII called The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer. I just finished Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart and Adam Grant’s Think Again – both of which widened my thinking about holistic leadership. I am watching “The Time Traveler’s Wife” because I adored the novel. Other favorites include “This is Us,” “Julia,” “Maid,” and “Ozark.” My guilty pleasure is “Survivor.”
What are your immediate goals/priorities as you begin work as president?
Building trust and getting to know as many Widener students, faculty, staff, and alumni as possible. I plan to immerse myself in the Widener community, ask a lot of questions, and listen. I want to build on the strong foundation that President Wollman established, and continue the caring, inclusive, innovative, agile spirit that attracted me to Widener.
What are some of your favorite ways to interact with students and get to know the campus community?
I plan to be very involved in the life of our three campuses, attending lectures, productions, events, and games; sitting in on classes; participating in student meetings and groups; having students, faculty, staff, and alumni over to our residence at the Billie Kirkbride House; and joining our community for meals and coffee on campus. I also love to make time for off-the-cuff conversations that occur naturally.