President Carol Cartwright chats with student callers in the Telefund center.

President Carol Cartwright chats with student callers in the Telefund center.

Telefund callers meet President Cartwright

Student callers in the BGSU Telefund center received inspiration from President Carol Cartwright as they prepared to begin their shifts the evening of Feb. 3.

The president visited to chat with the students and ended up staying quite a while to answer questions, some serious and some playful.

“There’s a lot of energy in the room,” Cartwright observed, telling the students, “We very much appreciate what you’re doing. In these especially challenging budget times, it is so important that we have a revenue stream that is not related to state support.

“You are often the first contact our alumni have with the University since graduating, and you have the chance to tell our story,” she said.

In fact, she told the callers, the Telefund has raised more than $650,000. “You had a huge impact on the Building Dreams Campaign. You made a big difference in enabling us to go way beyond our goal.”

The Telefund operates year-round, explained manager Kelly Anderson, who had known Cartwright at Kent State University. Each night, 29 students call on behalf of the fund for BGSU in the fall and for the respective colleges in the spring. The more than 300 callers have a considerable amount of training and are knowledgeable about the University. “They’re all energetic and good talkers,” Anderson said. While the economy has slowed things down recently, “we had a really awesome fall semester. We were $40,000 ahead of where we were at the same point the previous year,” she reported.

A student caller asked Cartwright what one point she felt was most important that they make in their calls. “I think it’s that we have a great spirit here,” she said. “People understand our mission and our values and work together to solve our larger problems. This is a great community.”

It was those same community characteristics that led her to choose to remain at BGSU beyond her initial one-year term as interim president, she said in response to another question. “When the moment came and I had to make that decision—one year or three years—it really wasn’t a very hard decision because I had come to know people here who were working hard on behalf of the University—and I would count you among that group.”

The president also answered a number of questions about enrollment strategies, BGSU’s direction and what it was like to be the first female university president in Ohio. To the question of whether she feels like a celebrity, she responded that while she does not, she does feel a serious responsibility as the very public symbol of the entire University. “It’s a different kind of spotlight. You’re a role model and you have to be on your absolute best behavior all the time—which can become a little tedious sometimes,” she added humorously.

February 9, 2009