Dr. C. Reynold Verret took over as Xavier University’s new president on July 1, 2015. The Haiti native came to Xavier from Savannah State, Georgia’s first historically black college, where he served as provost and chief academic officer. Verret earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Colombia University and his doctorate in biochemistry from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.This is the first in an installment of interviews with Verret that The Herald will feature this semester. Xavier Herald: This is your freshman year as president of Xavier University. What can you share with the freshman class about adjusting in a new environment?
Dr. Verret: I urge you to take real joy in the pursuit of knowledge with the assurance that knowledge at the service of others is indeed a high calling. Pursue understanding in depth, not with the superficiality necessary only for the next test. We are a community of learners, who come to specialize in different disciplines. Learn from each other, challenge
each other, support one another. It is important to take the next step in your academic journey, take full responsibility for your learning, and do not be passive but active learners. This calls for seeking help when needed, and challenging professors to clarify when you do not fully understand. Know that they are here for you.
XH: What advice would you give students about getting a head start in their first year and to being successful at the start of their collegiate careers?
Dr. Verret: Consult with your advisors and get to know the sequence of courses for
your 4 or 6 year degree. Adopt disciplined study habits:
1. Study for comprehension.
2. Read assignments before class; take good notes in class.
3. Review your notes soon after the class (within 24 hours recommended).
4. Upon review, you may find by Lacey Douglas, Contributing Writer that some items in the notes do not make sense. Then, you should visit with the instructor after class or at the next office hour to get clarification. Remember that the faculty are there for you.
XH: What do you want students to enjoy or take away from having a college experience at Xavier and in New Orleans?
Dr. Verret: The relationships you form at Xavier will persist for life. Enjoy these friendships and build each other up. Your learning does not end at Xavier. It is a life-long practice.
XH: Can you recall your freshman year of college? What would you do over again? What are you most proud of?
Dr. Verret: Yes, I do recall my first year in college. I probably would redo something. With the benefit of hindsight, I would not be the shy young man I was then. But time travel is not allowed.
XH: Can you share with students what activity, place, or experience in New Orleans you are most looking forward to?
Dr. Verret: The music of New Orleans is a rich and varied treasury. Check out Snug Harbor, Tipitina’s. Look forward to Jazz Fest. The other great treasury is food, also rich and varied.
There are old friendships that I look forward to renewing.
XH: In the next 4 years, when this current class graduates—the first freshmen with you as their president—what would you say to them?
Dr. Verret: Stay tuned!
XH: I have one quick question for a profile I am doing on one of our faculty members and needed a quick quote from you: One of our Xavier faculty members, Dr. Shearon Roberts, will be researching in Haiti within the next several months. Do you feel that it’s important for professors and students to travel to different countries for research and fieldwork opportunities?
Dr. Verret: Yes, it is important for Xavier faculty and students to engage in research abroad. We are a global community. We must cultivate capacity to work, think and create across cultures and nationalities.I also note that Haiti and New Orleans are linked by history and culture. This makes her work especially relevant to this city and university. One need only look at images of the cathedral square of Cap Haitien to realize that it inspired the layout of St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. If not abroad, this nation is a tapestry of different ways of life and traditions. There are opportunities for research throughout the 50 states and even Canada that will expand the lives and minds of our students.
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