By Gabriel Donahue, editor-in-chief
For Mark R. Ginsberg, becoming Towson University’s 15th president is likely the final chapter of his professional career, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t preparing for a new beginning.
In an interview with The Towerlight, Ginsberg said he wasn’t looking for a new job, but having lived in Maryland his entire adult life, it felt natural to come to Towson.
As the University System of Maryland search committee, led by Regent Ellen Fish, narrowed down contenders for the position, Ginsberg said he drove to Towson “to see what the place felt like” prior to meeting the committee.
“As an outsider looking in, I walked around the campus and just felt like it’s a pretty special place doing some special things,” he said.
He nodded to the university’s work to attain status as a research institution through the R2-Doctoral Carnegie Classification. Yet he said what’s important is not the title of “R2,” but what being an R2 institution means.
“The idea is to be recognized as a center for innovation, to be recognized by your peers around the country as a place that’s doing important work and doing it at a scale that allows the addressing of, then ultimately the solving of, some of life’s biggest problems. Some of the so-called ‘grand challenges,’” Ginsberg said.
He added that the “intellectual excitement that is embedded in” research institutions could help drive students to Towson and retain them.
George Mason University, where Ginsberg currently serves as provost and executive vice president, is an R1 institution. R1 is the highest level of research ranking. It gained that classification in 2016, according to a Mason webpage.
Ginsberg was the dean of the College of Education and Human Development at that time, a role he had for 10 years.
He said that as an R1, Mason blended the increased focus on research with sustained focus on teaching and learning, which he appreciates and hopes to bring to Towson as it approaches the R2 benchmark.
However, before gaining any new statuses, and before jumping on any opportunities, Ginsberg said he first wants to just listen.
“Regardless if you’re leading the university or leading a large organization, Fortune 500 or leading a small family business, understanding the context of the organization I think is really important,” he said. “So I want to be sure that I understand the history, understand the traditions, understand the challenges, and then begin to understand, even to a greater degree, the opportunities that the university has.”
To gain this understanding, Ginsberg said he will be spending time on campus, at the dining halls and the University Union to chat with students.
University System Chancellor Jay Perman spoke to Ginsberg’s leadership style in the press release announcing the decision.
“I’m excited to see how his collaborative leadership shapes Towson’s next chapter and accelerates achievement of the goals that all of TU holds close,” Perman wrote.
As a lifelong educator, Ginsberg said he wants to promote a caring community: meet students where they’re at and help them grow. He invites students and student groups to visit his office and open the dialogue in places he hasn’t.
“I want to be the kind of leader that respects others, that listens hard to them,” he said. “That understands context. At the same time is bold, so that we try not to be the Towson of the past; we look to be the Towson of the future.”
The search committee selected Ginsberg in July after a nation-wide search lasting roughly six months. He will begin his tenure on Oct. 30 after spending the last 14 years at Mason.
He succeeds Kim Schatzel, who left Towson after a seven year tenure in February for the University of Louisville, The Towerlight reported.
Note: This story has been updated to correct an error stating that Ginsberg went on a guided tour in addition to his visit to campus. A guided tour was not part of his meeting with the search committee. The Towerlight regrets this error.