Our view: Office hours with President Lefton

DKS Editors

Transparency is all the rage.

President Barack Obama addresses the country in a weekly video at WhiteHouse.gov. And now, as of last week, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis will have two-hour office hours once per month.

The first one will be 8 a.m. Thursday, and anyone will be able to go into McDavis’ office for 10-minute time slots to talk to him about anything.

According to Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post, McDavis decided to start having these office hours at the prodding of the board of trustees following his comprehensive evaluation.

President Lester Lefton, you’ve never had a bad review from the Board of Trustees. In fact, trustees have never publicly said a negative word about you.

And it’s hard to criticize you on transparency. You met with faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences on Thursday in a town hall format to field questions about budget changes. You write an e-mail to everyone at Kent State once a week about everything good the university is doing. And you meet with a Daily Kent Stater reporter twice a month.

One of us on the editorial board even passed you in the Student Center once.

Even so, why shouldn’t you have office hours?

McDavis is only doing it for two hours every month and, by our calculations, will only see 12 people each time. To keep up appearances, that’s not a bad deal.

Besides, aren’t you wholly accountable to us from our taxes and tuition that pay your more than quarter-million dollar salary and your bonus that could comfortably support a family of four?

And, President Lefton, it might be kind of fun. Sure, you’re going to get some angry community members or disgruntled staff who just want to let off steam about something too low on the university’s organizational chain for you to even do anything.

But if you follow the McDavis model, those people will be whisked aside after just 10 minutes.

You’ll get a lot of complaining, to be sure, but you may get something rewarding, too. You play the tough role of a CEO, but you’re an academic at heart.

Perhaps every once in a while a student of research psychology will come in to chat for 10 minutes about a mutual passion. Or you might chance upon a professor who has an idea that could put Kent State on the global map. It’s possible.

Office hours are a good idea, but it’s not the only way to accomplish something like this. Maybe you could take your lunch in the Student Center a couple times a month. Or you could even answer questions while you’re shooting baskets at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

What an unprecedented public relations tool that would be.

The above opinion is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.