Students’ passionate spirit and insight on display at recent Pizza with the President

President Tracy D. Hall proclaimed the Pizza with the President (PWP) event held Feb. 26 at the Whitehaven Center as one of the best she’s had since joining Southwest as president in 2015. Southwest students stepped to the mic to ask intuitive questions, offer insightful advice to senior staff on college operations, and to volunteer to assist their fellow classmates.

Dr. Hall at Pizza with the President

One student was concerned about new students and their ability to fully understand an academic environment and another suggested producing a podcast for students to share their challenges and joys.

Dr. Hall was impressed. “You came asking not only what we can do for you, but what you can do for other students and the College!”

Traditionally held each semester, PWP is hosted at one campus and live-streamed to other locations for the convenience of the students. Live streams were broadcast at the Macon Cove and Union Avenue campuses and the Maxine Smith Center.

“Southwest Resources” was the theme for this semester’s PWP.  “It’s always exciting for me to have conversations with students,” President Hall said. She added that students can sometimes find it challenging to know where to go or who to turn to, especially if they are not familiar with resources outside of their chosen program. “In addition to our dialogue today, we want you to know what types of student supports and academic programs are available to you,” she said.

President Hall introduced senior staff and faculty who gave a brief overview of their divisions and/or departments. Dean of Humanities, Social Science and Mathematics LaDonna Young, Dean of Faculty Support Jeremy Burnett, and Dean of Allied Health and Natural Sciences Evan McHugh provided an overview of their respective departments and their roles as deans to ensure a quality teaching and learning environment.  “Our Emergency Medical Service program is growing by leaps and bounds and our forensics program is the only one in the state,” McHugh said. 

Dean for High Impact Practices and Innovations (HIPI) Matthew Lexow discussed the myriad of activities HIPI sponsors. “Our division implements strategies to keep our students engaged,” Lexow said. “We have honors classes and an international studies program and a host of other opportunities to enhance your learning.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Jackie Faulkner described her office’s oversight of student affairs to include admission, financial aid, advising, retention, and counseling. Interim Vice President for Business and Finance Mike Neal briefly explained the budget and Technologies Department Chair Jeffrey Stewart provided an overview of the many programs associated with the division of business and technology, including machining, industrial and automotive technology, mechatronics, and hospitality management. 

After the administration’s presentations, students engaged Hall with a wide variety of questions – from purchasing bus passes to obtaining tutoring help to scheduling graduation, biology and lab classes.

Hall praised the students for their probing questions and support. “This has been one of the best chats we’ve ever had.”