Montgomery Business Journal

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MBJ, Carl A. Stockton, AUM

Best-Kept Secret

October 2016

Carl A. Stockton is the new chancellor at Auburn University at Montgomery. He was recently interviewed by the Montgomery Business Journal’s David Zaslawsky.

Montgomery Business Journal: What are your responsibilities as AUM chancellor? Stockton: As the chancellor it is my responsibility to provide the vision and direction of the institution; to work with not only the faculty, staff and students, but also work with the business leaders, the legislators, alumni, military to meet the community needs in education. I’m excited about that opportunity to be the chancellor here at Auburn University at Montgomery. In essence, it’s to set the direction and vision for the institution to meet the community needs both internally and externally.

What were your first impressions of Auburn University at Montgomery after three weeks on the job? First impression is, this is a great institution. The faculty, staff, students are very supportive. The faculty and staff are very supportive of the students. People here on this campus are very vested in the university – not only internally, but externally. I’ve met with many community leaders, businessmen, legislators, alumni – very, very strong support for AUM. I’m very pleased to be here and very pleased to see that support. It’s not every day that you go to an institution and that you have that support. Obviously, I have met with (Auburn University) President (Jay) Gogue, the board of trustees, and they are very much in support of Auburn University at Montgomery. That’s exciting for me.

You said AUM is a great institution. What makes it a great institution? The institution provides a good, quality education for many students. I view Auburn University Montgomery in some ways as one of the best-kept secrets. Excellent educational opportunities; safe campus; very nice campus; and I think there are a lot of opportunities to grow for this institution and to meet the needs of the community.

Why is AUM a best-kept secret? I’m saying that because as I get to know the campus, there are a lot of quality programs here. There are a lot of programs that I believe can meet the community needs that people may or may not be aware of. One of the things that I would like to do is to share that information with the community. People are very, very vested in providing strong support for these students that come here to Auburn University at Montgomery to get an education and to open the doors for many of those students that otherwise may not have that opportunity.

When you talk about a lot of growth opportunities, what are you referring to? To start with, because we are an educational institution, I think there are opportunities to grow new degree programs, but not only new degree programs, but our outreach. We have very strong outreach programs. They are doing a great job. I was very, very impressed with SummaSource, advanced technology and many of the outreach programs. But I also think there is an opportunity to grow additional academic programs to meet the workforce needs; to work with Montgomery and the community and the State of Alabama to meet many of the economic development projects that are out there. And I look forward to doing that.

It sounds like you’re gathering information at this stage to understand the workforce needs. Correct.

In your short time here, what have you learned about AUM? It’s a very supportive campus environment and a very safe campus environment, as I said earlier. People are very, very vested to this institution. It is about the people. It’s about people working together and people do work together in supporting the mission of the university.

Has anything surprised you (in) what you have learned about AUM or something different than your previous experiences? I’ve been in higher-ed for lots of years and nothing has surprised me.

Have the stakeholders been more supportive than what you are used to? I sense a very strong support on this campus and not only on the campus, but externally as well. Every institution has their opportunities and their challenges and Auburn Montgomery is no different. With the right people in place and working together, those opportunities and challenges I look as opportunities …

What are AUM’s strengths and weaknesses or areas that need improvement or is it too soon after three weeks on the job? I made a comment about the best-kept secret. I think one of the areas is to get the message out and the university is doing that. Getting the message out about the opportunities for students at Auburn Montgomery as well as other types of programs. Too often universities get so busy in day-to-day activities that we don’t promote (ourselves).

When you’re talking about a best-kept secret, is that in reference to a quality education with a wealth of programs, or that AUM is even here? I think (people) don’t know that Auburn Montgomery has all the things to offer students. There are a lot of opportunities for students and not only in the classroom, but outside the classroom. Auburn University at Montgomery has a great name. I’ve known Auburn Montgomery for 24 years. I used to live in Mobile, Alabama. I used to come up to the state capital working with my professional organizations.

How do you characterize your first meetings with business and city leaders as well as legislators? Very supportive. They welcomed me into the community and I thank the business leaders and community members very much for that. They are very supportive of the university. They’ve asked me if there is anything that Auburn Montgomery needs from them – just to reach out to them. I do plan to do that.

What are your goals for the 2016-2017 school year? Since I’m in my first three weeks, I’m in the process of meeting with everybody. I’ll use the first 100 days. After 100 days, I’m going to set the vision and direction for the institution from my standpoint.

Who are you meeting with? I’m in the process of meeting with students, faculty, staff, administrators, business leaders, Chamber. I would like to go out and talk to the military and the legislators. I like to get input from everybody so I have a pretty good picture as to what are the needs and then I’ll be setting that direction.

A listening tour? Listening and processing information.

What are your first impressions of Montgomery? Great city; vibrant city; very friendly city; quite a bit to do here. My wife and I, once we get a little settled, would like to go out to the Shakespeare Festival. I got invited to the Dragon Boat Race. I’m looking forward to learning more about Montgomery, but in the short time we’ve been here I think it’s a great city. My wife … grew up in Alabama.

Where in Alabama? She grew up in Mobile, Alabama.

You told the Montgomery Advertiser that AUM can help solve community issues. How do you accomplish that? You have to assess what those issues are in meeting with people and trying to understand needs. What are the needs from the business community? What are the issues they are trying to solve? One quick example is that I know that cyber security is a big issue today. We have a new degree program that’s training individuals in this area – cyber security. You assess what those needs are and you work together as part of not only a university, but a community to talk about a plan, and what’s the way to address those issues.

We’re going to talk again after 100 days. Please. I was going to ask you to do that after 100 days.

What does success look like for your first year? For me a first-year success is having people on board with the shared vision; having people ready to roll up their sleeves and work together to improve whatever challenges we have to address as an institution. It’s important for me to have everybody working together.

Do have any long-term goals such as fundraising or student enrollment? Fundraising is an expectation involving CEOs and, in this case, university leaders. Fundraising is going to be important for the institution and yes, that is one of those long-range goals. You also mentioned enrollment. It’s important to grow enrollment, but more important than growing enrollment is to open doors to provide educational opportunities for the students in Montgomery and the region and Alabama. I believe that AUM has the capacity to grow more students on our campus. It’s a beautiful campus and the facilities are great. We are opening a new residence hall (P40).

Any other building going on? We want to continue to build out some of our laboratory space and with the university growing with students, I think that is going to be an issue in the future. 

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