Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Pritchett is ‘here for you’

John Pritchett has just one problem with the Baldwin House:  The guest quarters in the presidential mansion aren’t large enough to accommodate his 12 grandchildren when they come down to visit.
“I am quite close to my family, and I love it when they come to stay with me,” said Pritchett.

The lights won’t be dark in the Baldwin House, though.  Pritchett already knows that several FAU events, starting with Parent and Family Weekend, will be held there.

John Pritchett has been FAU’s provost and chief academic officer for six and a half years, during which time he has helped develop many traditions, like the Freshman Convocation Program.  Now, Pritchett has been named interim president upon Frank Brogan’s departure for Tallahassee.

Before coming to FAU, Pritchett served as a dean at Auburn University in Alabama. Now that he is the interim president of FAU, Pritchett sat down to discuss what his goals are, why he hates the term “commuter school,” and how his words seemed to cause a fire alarm.

Q & A with Pritchett:

UP:  You have been named interim president.  What exactly does that title entail?

John Pritchett: An interim president is not a temporary president or an acting president.  I will be performing all duties expected of the president for an indefinite amount of time, until a suitable and permanent replacement for president is found.

UP:  What has been your greatest experience at FAU so far?

JP: The people.  Without a doubt, the people have been the best part of my time here at FAU.

UP: Do you plan to carry on the work and traditions that Brogan set in place?

JP: Certainly.  In fact, my team at the Office of the Provost has had a strong hand in helping President Brogan to create and maintain several of the traditions here at FAU, such as the Freshman Convocation.

UP: What is the one major goal you wish to accomplish as interim president?

JP: I would like to rebuild the foundation of FAU.  We have faced a lot of hard times here in the past three years, and I feel that before we begin reaching out, we need to create a strong base in the university.

UP: Do you feel that taking on this responsibility will be difficult in this period of transition when FAU is changing from a long-time commuter school to a respected state university?

JP: No, I do not.  I really do hate the words “commuter school.”  People often say a school is a commuter school when the majority of students live close by, off campus.  I don’t see that being the case.  I see a lot of other unique things that make FAU a respectable school, such as the fact that the average age of our students is 25.  More than 40 percent of FAU’s student body is part-time, because of the fact that they are working adults who have families to care for and other obligations to keep.  I am proud of our students, and I feel that FAU is already a respected state university.

UP: What do you feel will be your greatest challenge?

JP: The greatest challenge will definitely be the same as my main goal, and that is to build the foundation of FAU to make us the strongest school we can be.

UP: What are some words you would like the students of FAU to hear?

JP: Well, there are two things.  First of all, I would like the student body and the faculty to know that I am “here for you.”  That has always been one of my favorite quotes to live and work by.  The second thing I’d like everyone to hear has a little story behind it.  Have you ever heard of the Irish writer William Butler Yeats?  He was the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1923.  And he always said, “Education is not just filling the bucket, but lighting the fire.”  Now, I see filling the bucket as adding all of the elements of science and literature and history.  I once explained this in a speech I gave when I was a dean up at Auburn.  As if on cue, right when I said the part about lighting the fire, all the fire alarms in the building began going off!  [chuckles]  That was just about the most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to me.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *