'Every year is a new year’
President Gilbertson reflects upon last 17 years; first open forum tomorrow
September 18, 2006 —
Around the time when Curtiss Hall was just a parking lot and less than 500 people lived on campus, President Eric Gilbertson began his long journey with SVSU.
Gilbertson was born and raised in Ohio and then lived in Vermont for eight years to work at a small state college. Afterward, he ventured over to SVSU, where he saw the university as a place ready to develop. Since that day in August of 1989, Gilbertson has led the University to what it is today.
"I tell students that they should always be seeking a better job, and there are two different ways to do that: find a better job or make the job you're in better," he says. "I've tried to do the latter. I found it more satisfying to help mold and shape a rapidly developing university than it would have been simply to preside over a static institution."
When Gilbertson started, SVSU was a desolate place compared to what it is today. Two thirds of the current campus did not exist, and there was no need for 75 percent of the workers. However, he felt SVSU was on the verge of being able to take off.
"Every year is a new year," Gilbertson says. "I'm sitting in the same chair I took 17 years ago, but it's not really the same job. It's a very different job."
Gilbertson is not as proud of the wide expansion of the campus as he is about all of the interaction and activities that occur inside the buildings. He enjoys seeing the work and accomplishments of students first hand. He attends as many plays, parties, sporting events, and campus activities as possible. He says he can at least recognize, if not have some sort of relationship with, about one in three students at graduation every year.
Gilbertson says he has had two very important high points throughout his career: watching his first child graduate from SVSU, and then watching his second graduate from SVSU. Both occasions are captured in photographs, which sit framed on his desk.
He believes the most rewarding experiences he has had at SVSU are the results of smaller accomplishments, not necessarily the larger, more obvious accomplishments.
"Big developments are usually accumulations of little developments," he says. "It's all that stuff taken together that kind of lifts our institution up."
Gilbertson says there are still many things he would like to accomplish at the University. In fact, after being offered another job a few years back, he discovered that he really didn't want any other job.
To learn more about Gilbertson and his plans for the University, go to this fall's first President's Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge.