President Gaertner gets up close and personal

Students had the opportunity to hear a short address from President Jim Gaertner Wednesday as part of the “Up Close and Personal” speaker series.

The series, organized by the Student Advising and Mentoring Center, will take place on the second Wednesday of every month at 12 p.m. in the Farrington Pit.

“The whole notion of the ‘Up Close and Personal’ series was that we wanted to provide an opportunity for something more personal,” the SAM Center’s Bernice Strauss said. “We wanted the students to have a chance to get to know the faculty as who they are as people, from outside of their official roles.”

Gaertner spoke about his life, the places he had worked, some of the setbacks he had experienced and what he wished he could have done differently.

He also gave the group of approximately 50 audience members an opportunity to ask questions.

“I made several big mistakes, but then I decided I was going to be myself,” Gaertner said. “You have setbacks, you mess up, but then you have to come back. It’s never a straight shot.”

Gaertner also said, after all of the jobs he has had, that his position at Sam Houston is his favorite.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve worked harder at this job than any I’ve ever had, but it has been the most rewarding.”

Strauss said, because of the theme of the series, it was very appropriate that the president of the university gave the first address.

“One of the things we’ve historically been proud of as a university is our ability to create a friendly, intimate atmosphere for our students,” she said. “We want to maintain that level of interaction and keep up those mentoring relationships.”

Strauss said each speaker is given question prompts as an option for their speech, but they are not confined to those questions.

Some of the topics suggested for discussion include career choices, teaching philosophy and strategies for success.

“The idea is to get to know the background of the speaker, the research they’ve done, what they like and don’t like about the university and what they’d change,” she said.

The series will continue on Oct. 10 with a speech from history professor Katherine Pierce.

For more information, visit or call Strauss at (936) 294-4455.

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