Dr. Robert G. Gregerson, Pitt Greensburg’s fifth president, is one of three candidates set to succeed President Mike Martin at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), of which Dr. Gregerson was formerly the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Gregerson has filled a lot of shoes over many years. Named president in July of 2019, Gregerson took up the mantle from Sharon P. Smith, who had held the position since 2007. His presidency follows a long career in academia across the country, ranging from researcher to professor, department head, dean, and finally to president. Now, his candidacy for presidency elsewhere poses the question, what’s next? Who better to ask than Dr. Gregerson himself?
“At this point, three things can happen,” Gregerson said.
In a college-level presidential search, several steps lead up to taking a job opportunity like this one. Though the decision-making process is typically unique to each university, it is typically up to a close search committee to determine which candidates would best fit the school. This late into the process at FGCU, only one of two interviews remains to help decide which of the three finalists will be selected. Thus, there are three possible turnouts.
“One, you don’t get selected. Two, you get selected and decline. Three, you get selected and accept.” Gregerson said. In either the first or second case, Dr. Gregerson would remain at Pitt Greensburg as president.
If he were to be selected and accept the position, however, the Greensburg campus would soon need to enact its own presidential search. Gregerson explained that the initial course of action would likely consist of hiring a search firm to pose the job opportunity and canvas possible candidates, alongside naming an interim (acting) president while waiting for a more permanent replacement.
Additionally, open forums may be held to gauge what students, faculty, staff, and community members expect from the presidential role. During the previous presidential search, two students served on the committee and helped discern Gregerson from other candidates.
Though a campus can operate for some time without a president, the significance of Gregerson’s role pertains heavily to a university’s reputation within its community.
“The president is the public face of the institution,” Gregerson said.
This doesn’t mean he acts as a figurehead. Rather, Gregerson is responsible for connecting the campus to the county, working with state legislators, donors, and community organizations to build relationships and secure funding for the school.
For Gregerson, the choice to apply to this position and be a part of the running at FGCU was made in hopefulness and familiarity rather than any sudden, strong urge to leave Greensburg.
“We really like it here,” Gregerson said, referring to himself and his wife. “Pitt Greensburg is a really wonderful place to live and work. We had lived in Fort Mayers, Florida for five years… so there was almost a feeling of attraction to something you already know… I applied and was fortunate enough to get selected as a finalist.”
Gregerson also mentioned that, while he was unaware of any official timeline, he did expect outgoing Martin to retire and that the opening “wasn’t a huge surprise.”
Regardless of where Dr. Gregerson serves, he shared an overarching sentiment of empathy in approaching a campus community.
“Every place has its own culture and set of relationships developed over time,” Gregerson said. “You have to figure out who people are and what their strengths are, and it takes a while… Every situation is different. You can’t say, ‘I’ve figured out the formula, I’m just going to apply it over here.’ Because it doesn’t work that way… a good leader has to be willing to listen.”