As the school year comes to a close, some of us say goodbye to the University for good, while others simply say “see ya later.” However, this concluding school year is not only bittersweet for graduating seniors but at the end of May, President Gaffney will also be saying his final goodbye.
Even though he will be missed, he will not be forgotten. Gaffney has truly left a lasting impression during his 10 years as President. Here at The Outlook we f eel t hat he did a great job at making students feel they were important. He likes to keep the students’ best interests in mind. One example is when he chose to cancel classes before Superstorm Sandy even got close to New Jersey. He knew that students, along with the other members of the MU community, had to travel to all different places to be home with their families. One editor said, “He always put the students first above all else, which is rare to see in a President.”
President Gaffney was sure to make himself visible, whether it was just walking around campus or an athletic event. Many of us at The Outlook remember seeing him at a football game, a basketball game or even a track meet that was three hours away in Maryland. Another editor said he met Gaffney while he was wandering around Bey Hall. Gaffney told him that he had just been sitting in the back of a random classroom observing.
Any time he passed a student organization having a fundraiser, he was sure to donate what he had in his pocket. Students could find Gaffney absolutely anywhere. A President being so present is not always common when it comes to other schools, but our University was fortunate enough to have this experience.
During his 10 years here, he has helped produce a variety of advancements to MU. These contributions consist of the Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC), Mullaney Hall, Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall, the purchase of the University Bluffs (previously known as the Diplomats), renovation of the Guggenheim Library, the Information Management addition to the Edison Science Building and the soccer lighting project which added 84 1,500w lighting fixtures to the soccer field. Upcoming projects that he played a major role in starting include the new residence hall that will be built in place of Lot 6 and a bowling alley that will be built in Boylan Gymnasium.
The Outlook has established a phenomenal relationship with Gaffney as well. He is the first person to congratulate us when we win any type of reward. Any time we need an interview, he is always willing to speak with us. Even if we ask him last minute for a quote, he is more than happy to help. Staff writers also felt comfortable enough to approach him and never complained once of having a difficult time getting in touch with him. His willingness to help shows how much he wants us to grow as reporters.
Other schools and universities do not even know the name of their President and do not get to know him on a more personal level. Other Presidents won’t even talk to the school newspaper. We are truly grateful for the incredible relationship we have with Gaffney. So, thank you to Gaffney for always being there whenever The Outlook needed him.
He never came off as an intimidating authority figure, but he was still highly respected.
It did not matter who you were or what title you had at the University, Gaffney treated everyone with respect and would listen to anything anyone had to say because he genuinely cares. He made every member of the MU community feel special.
One of our senior editors at The Outlook says that he is really looking forward to the Gaffney-handshake at graduation. For the graduating seniors who may not know what the Gaffney-handshake is, be prepared. And for the senior girls wearing heels to the commencement ceremony, consider changing your shoe choice. This is a quality we are not pointing fun at. It is just one of the many things Gaffney is known for.
Dr. Paul Brown will be taking over for the 2014 academic year. The Outlook is looking forward to seeing what he will bring to MU and we are hoping that we will be able to develop a relationship with him similar to the one we have with Gaffney.
We feel that it is safe to say that Gaffney is the gold standard of college Presidents. It is truly sad to see him go. However, we wish him the best during his retirement.