Since arriving on the campus of Tarleton State, Dr. James Hurley, the university’s 16th president, had one goal in mind - connecting with students and faculty.
That goal has sent the Hurleys’ schedule into overdrive. He and his wife Kindall have been seen at just about every event at Tarleton since their arrival in August.
Hurley’s Twitter feed is full of photos of people he has met on his travels through campus: A photo of him and TSU police officer Chili Alexander; photos of him hamming it up with students at tailgate and eating corn on the cob with Greek-lifers.
After getting to know Dr. Hurley, a couple of things become abundantly clear: This isn’t your everyday university president.
Dr. Hurley isn’t shy nor does he have any intention of leading the university from the shadow of the president’s office.
At 43, Tarleton’s new man might just be the most outgoing president the university has ever seen.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Hurley inside his office in the Administration Building last week. There were no questions off limits and I even got the scoop on a few personal tidbits like the fact that he enjoys snow skiing (and loves cold weather).
He sleeps very little (only four to five hours a night) and runs five miles every morning.
He likes chocolate and only owns one pair of jeans.
On his playlist is a variety of music including Khalid, Lady Gaga, Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong and Kenny Chesney. He might even have a song or two from Eminem.
Here are a few more things I learned from our time together:
E-T: What is it about Tarleton and Stephenville you find most appealing?
“Dr. Dottavio was a big influence in my decision to come here. He had so many good things to say about Tarleton and the community.
“The people here are so welcoming and friendly. We feel a sense of family both in Stephenville and on this campus.”
E-T: How would you describe your leadership style?
“Sporadic. People have said I’m ‘academically entrepreneurial.’ I’m always looking for an unfair advantage for our institution. I am focused on student success.”
E-T: How are you using social media to connect with students?
“I am actively engaged in social media and the kids love it. When they see me around campus, they stop and take a picture with me because they know I will Tweet it out. They send it to their parents.”
E-T: Sundaes on Sunday is something you and Kindall started at Tusculum University and have now brought to Tarleton. Tell us about that.
“It’s a lot of fun. Kindall and I and others (even Lonn Reisman) serve the ice cream to students. We want to show how much we care for them.”
E-T: There is a lot of talk about you being the man to take Tarleton to D1. Is that your goal?
“Chancellor (John) Sharp made it very clear that in order for us to get the national recognition we deserve that we need to go DI. So yes, that’s my goal, 100 percent.”
E-T: Tell us about your family.
"My wife Kindall and I have a two-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, and Blayklee who is two. I also have two sons - Carter (14) and Drew (16)."