President Andy Feinstein shares his experience as UNC’s 13th president, as well as the importance of developing campus comradery.

Since you've become president, what are some big takeaways that you've already seen that make you proud of UNC?

The biggest takeaway is when I walk across campus and people say hello to me and stop by and talk to me about how excited they are about the future of the university. That lets me know that I'm at the right place and I'm doing the right things. And I get great pleasure and joy out of knowing that people believe in the future of this university as I do. And there's certainly a lot of work ahead, and I've heard my share of concerns and recommendations for improvement. But overall, I am so impressed by the willingness of this campus to embrace change and to be a part of the ways in which we are going to work towards improving the future of this university.

At your first State of the University, you told the community that you wanted to borrow the slogan from the class of 1910: to commit to rowing, not drifting. A: How is that going? And B: Why did you choose that?

It's a wonderful slogan that has a history here going back almost a hundred years, actually more than a hundred years. And it really exemplifies what needs to happen here, and that is for us as a university to focus, to work together to address our challenges and see the future of the university. And I think it's going quite well. You know, I hear from people the impression that that made on them and their desire to work together and moving the institution forward. I've also generated a secret fan club who sends me mugs and pictures and things all related to rowing and, kind of with that, what that means to them. So I'm having a lot of fun with it as well.

Do you just receive this like, you come into the office and then there's something new on your desk?

Exactly. I have a nice big picture on my wall of rowing not drifting. I have mugs that say "Eat, Sleep, Row." I have pins that have rowing on them. So it's certainly been a real enjoyment to see how the campus has caught onto participating in that mantra.

Where did you see this?

It was actually provided to me by our marketing/communications team. They said, "Andy, we want to show you something. We want you to come out to the gates of the university and look up." And when I walked over to that entrance and saw the Horace Mann Gate, there was the inscription, "Rowing not drifting," and it really struck a chord in me like I'm certain it did with our marketing/communications team.

Did you want to have some sort of quote like that? Were you looking for a mantra or once you saw it, you were just like, "Yes"?

I was looking for some way to create a statement or a message that we could use to unify the campus. And certainly when I saw that inscription, it was the aha moment for me.

You inherited a budget deficit here at UNC. How are you handling that?

Well, it's a challenge but also an opportunity, and the work that we have been doing as a campus, you know, stretching back since my arrival, is really grounded on the principles of collaboration, transparency and trust. And so what we've been working on is, I've been meeting with numerous groups of faculty, staff and students and talking about their concerns, trying to understand their ideas of where the university should be and where we are, providing information, presentations on our budget, discussing at length some of the opportunities that we can address to reduce some of our costs. And then rolling out plans that address that. And if you've seen some of the work that's online and on our website, it clearly outlines kind of the stages that we've been taking in addressing these budget challenges. So certainly it's hard work. It's not all fun. Tough decisions have to be made and implemented. But I am very — I'm confident that we will address this challenge and be beyond it very soon, and I'm quite surprised by the support of the community in working together in addressing this challenge

Coming up soon is your investiture?

Correct.

What are you feeling about that?

I think it's, I'm excited about it because this is not just an opportunity to celebrate my presidency here, which I'm sure my mom and dad are certainly excited about. But it's really an opportunity for us to celebrate this university and what we stand for and believe in and coming together as a community and showcasing what a wonderful place this is with people from outside of Greeley: people in Colorado and beyond. I think that's a wonderful thing, and it's going to be a great opportunity for us to showcase all the wonderful work we're doing. Not to mention a brand new Campus Commons, which is, I was in there this morning — it's an absolutely beautiful venue. But it's a place where we're going to have a lot of faculty, students and staff there. We'll have a lot of performances by students throughout the day, and we're gonna have a lot of people take note of what a wonderful place this is that may not have realized what UNC is all about.

My name is Andy Feinstein and I'm the president at the University of Northern Colorado.

I'm truly enjoying my work here. I feel honored and privileged to be in this role, and I still pinch myself from time to time, and just the amazing excitement I have about being this university's leader and learning every day about what makes this place special is something that I certainly cherish. My family and I love living in Greeley and that I am a normal, everyday, average person.

You bleed blood?

I bleed blood. [laughs] And I love to be approached and strike up conversations with people and learn about them and their ties to the university. And it's one of the great pleasures of my job, is getting to know people and learning about them. The history of this university as a normal school and the value we place on teaching and learning; the ways in which we teach and educate our students and the value we place on small class sizes and the relationships that our staff and faculty build with students; our foundations, but also the work we're going to do in the fall in reaffirming our values and talking about what is important to us all so we can create clarity and mission. And that's something I'm looking forward to doing. And being able to come back and talk with you in the future about what exactly those values and that vision looks like.

Transcription has been edited for concision and clarity.