Standing in a circle with coffee and pastries in hand, students and campus community members met early in the morning on April 16 in the University Center’s Fireside Lounge, all to be among the first to meet the finalist for the University of Northern Colorado’s new president.
Andrew “Andy” Feinstein was announced on April 10 by the UNC Board of Trustees to be the university’s incoming president, following Kay Norton’s retirement at the end of the semester. The search committee said he was a “proven academic leader who values collaboration and transparency.”
While Feinstein currently serves as San José State University’s provost and senior vice president in California, he will be working with UNC throughout June to set up and move into the office on July 9.
Students and campus community members were eager to meet him and his family, as his wife and his daughter came along to the meet and greet, as well as ask some tough questions about what he’d bring to campus in the fall.
“The students are wonderful. I purposely ensured that the first people I met with on campus was the students,” Feinstein said. “They were very welcoming and asking good questions about everything, how I’m going to address some of the issues, concerns that have been expressed, like the budget, as well as questions about free speech.”
Feinstein and his family will relocate to Greeley in July and he expressed his excitement in joining the UNC/Greeley community. He said he is most excited about meeting the people and getting involved.
“Certainly, getting to know the community, getting to know my neighbors where I’m living, certainly exploring the restaurants and the downtown area over the summer, finding some disk golf courses to play,” Feinstein said. “I’ve already played the campus disk golf course and there’s a couple others in town. I’m looking forward to finding some bike trails, my family and I think spending some summertime meeting with administrators and staff and those that are around as we get closer to the beginning of the fall. So that’s where I’ll certainly be engaging with more students and faculty as they return to campus.”
Malaika Michel-Fuller was a part of the search committee as the students’ rights advocate.
Since then she has been elected as student trustee, but Michel-Fuller had positive encounters with Feinstein during the interview process.
“The first time we interviewed Andy, I tried not to be biased, but I felt like ‘this is him,’” Michel-Fuller said. “I felt so strongly about the energy he brought into the room. What I really appreciated was how much investment he already put in our university before he was even considered a finalist. He did so much research, he read all of our campus climate data, he had looked at each of our student profiles, so he was able to talk with me about the extracurriculars I was a part of and my major. We were able to connect on a personal basis and he’s followed that through throughout the entire process.”
Feinstein said he hoped to bring “my energy, my enthusiasm for the university and higher education” to UNC when he officially become president. He also said he wanted to bring “my priority of focusing on students, and ability to ensure they get a great education at UNC, and I think my collaborative style, leadership.”
Tim Hernandez, the newly elected student body president, was not a part of the hiring process, but said he’s confident in working with Feinstein in the future, as he thinks they will operate under the same mindset. That mindset consists primarily of building something sustainable and not instantly gratifying when working to help UNC.
“He’s very pragmatic, he’s very humble, he’s very open and, in the very least, he seems to be an excellent learner,” Hernandez said.
Feinstein expressed how he wanted to spend most of his time getting to know the campus and students and all the concerns that come with it before he started making plans.
At the meet and greet, Feinstein emphasized how he wanted students and campus community members to contact him with any concerns.
“Just know that the reason that I chose this opportunity was because I really think this is a wonderful institution and I think we are delivering a world-class experience for our students,” Feinstein said. “But I know there’s work to be done, too.”
One of the concerns a student brought forth at the meet and greet was how he would improve upon being involved with the students on campus, beyond what Kay Norton was able to invest as president.
Feinstein explained how, as a hospitality major, service recovery and establishing relationships is a goal he hopes to achieve as president. For the UNC community, Feinstein wants them to know how eager he is to establish this relationship.
“I’d like them to know how excited the Feinsteins are to be a part of the UNC family, Feinstein said. “We can’t wait to meet everyone and to be on campus, don’t hesitate to stop by and introduce yourself and say ‘hello.’”