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11 Things You Need to Know about Queens' Incoming President

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Want to learn more about Queens' 21st president? Check out this recent question-and-answer session on a wide range of topics. Some are serious, others humorous, and all were asked to introduce you to a leader whose colleagues unanimously agree is honest, open and engaged.

Q. Where did you grow up? And what is a significant trait you take from there? 

A.  I was born on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and as a youngster lived in a number of places in the Caribbean, but I definitely ‘grew up’ in Amityville, New York on Long Island. Amityville was a wonderful and incredibly diverse community of working-class and middle- class families. I’m confident that I take a few traits from my childhood in Amityville: First, I love living with, working with, and getting to know people of all ethnicities and background—Amityville provided that exposure to difference perfectly. Second, I think a bit of my work ethic was influenced by the community of Amityville. Everyone that I knew, just like me, always had a job or was always thinking of ways to add to their family’s bottom line. For me, it started by cutting lawns and shoveling snow for neighbors at a young age, to being a paper boy for Long Island Newsday, and then always having a retail job in high school.

Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew in college? 

A. Considering that I knew so little in college it is hard to know where to start. I certainly wish I had fully understood earlier in my undergraduate experience, the value of the pass/fail grading option. I wish that I had taken a lot more time to get to know and be personally mentored by faculty outside of the classroom. Being on the educators’ side of the relationship now for all of these years, I am amazed by the commitment, dedication, and love that faculty have for their students—I should have been more open to them in college. I also now know that I should have attended every visiting lecture, performance or talk by as many of the internationally renowned visitors that came to my campus. Unless you work in higher education, never again will you have access to the quality and volume of amazing world thinkers that you can in college. Even when you work at these places, you are likely too busy to take full advantage. 

Q. Did you have an internship and if so, what was the most important lesson you learned from it? 

A. I had a great internship in Washington, D.C., working in the office of New York U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, the 46-year representative of Harlem, New York. I think the most important thing that I learned was that I did not want to be a politician or work in politics, which was an earlier career interest for me. That is one of the most important parts of having an internship. You find out which career paths and fields that you might like, but also those that you might not. 

Q. What is your fondest—or funniest—collegiate memory? 

A. I have too many funny memories to rank, but my fondest memory took place on the eve and dawn of commencement day and spending a great night with my roommates and friends, and, believe it or not, wading up the local river at sunrise. College is definitely about the academic experience and skill development, but the friendships, connections and memories that you make will last forever. 

Q. How many countries have you visited (name them)? 

A. I really love to travel and I have been so privileged to be able to visit many countries. I’ve never counted them, actually, or listed them. It might be easier to say where I haven’t been, which includes Africa, the Middle and Near East and Australia. Some of my favorite countries that I have visited include: China, Singapore, Japan, France, England, Norway, Austria, Cuba, Argentina and Mexico. 

Q. If you have a free hour outside of work, how would you spend it? 

A. Easy answer: I would spend it with my family. Maybe we would be watching a movie or show, having a great meal or snack or doing anything that has us in conversation, laughing and having fun. 

Q. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

A. I would pick the power to fly. I absolutely love to travel and the ability to skip the plane and visit exciting destinations, family, or friends would be amazing.  

Q. Imagine being stranded on a deserted island and you can have one book and one album. What would they be? 

A. Book: Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo 
Album: Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On 

Q. Do you play any musical instruments?

A. Growing up and in college I played the string bass. After college, I played the guitar. Unfortunately, it has been many years since I picked up an instrument, but I get to live vicariously through my son who plays piano, trombone, French horn and sings! 

Q. How would you describe Queens today? How do you want people to describe it in five years? 

A. Today: A welcoming and exciting community of students, faculty and staff dedicated to connecting their education to the real world and to making a difference at Queens and the communities that they live in.

Five Years: Queens is a national and international destination for bright students looking for a transformational education experience that vaults their career and networking potential and is THE private university of Charlotte with the best pipelines and partnerships with the full array of corporate and non-profit industries represented in our region. 

Q. What are you looking forward to most about relocating to Charlotte? 

A. I am looking forward to 70-degree days in December, January, and February! I am looking forward to enjoying all of the amazing arts and cultural institutions and I am looking forward to passionately rooting for the Royals, Panthers, and Hornets and, of course, only in that order.