Who Knew Woo U: President Maloney

Posted on December 5, 2012 by

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ImageBy Joseph P. LaBaire

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the president of our university, Barry Maloney, for an interview. Although he is a very busy man, he always has time to sit down and talk with students. In the short amount of time I spent talking with him, I learned that he is a genuine human being who is honest and caring. For every question I asked, he had a well spoken, meaningful response. Though a professional about his work, he was not afraid to laugh while answering my questions, showing a different side of himself from his role as Worcester State University President.

When asked where he got his passion to be so involved with students and the experience they have here at WSU, President Maloney explained to me that it all stems from his upbringing. Both his mother and his father were involved in the field of education for more than 30 years. From an early age he witnessed both the challenges as well as the rewards that individuals in the field of education face. He was able to see the magic of education and how rewarding it can be when you witness a child learn something new and that look of wonder rushes over their face.

President Maloney began his career in higher education at Westfield State University where he worked in Student Affairs. Although this was not the field he had intended to work in, his “plan B” as he called it,  President Maloney quickly learned to love his job once he let go of the idea that his first career choice, plan A,  was a better field to work in. He loves working with students because it allows him to help them fulfill their dreams.

He mentioned that he is a believer in karma. He believes that by helping others succeed, then he too will succeed.  The lasting relationships that he has made, and still maintains, with the students from Westfield State over the last 20 years has proven to him that his career choice was the right one.

When asked what he believed was the most important piece of knowledge that a student could leave college with, he had a few things to say. First, he said that they should know that the “world is getting smaller by the day.” Students should learn how to “get out in the world” and sample everything that life has to offer, they are “responsible for their own experiences.”

 “College is supposed to introduce students to three things, new places, new people, and new ideas.” President Maloney said. Although you may never go to the places or meet the people that you learn about, simply knowing they exist makes will make you a better, well rounded individual. Lastly, he made it clear that college students “should utilize every resource available to them” not only on campus, but everywhere. Do not miss out on opportunities! Whether it is student activities or things like career services, use them while they are available.

I followed this question up by asking the president what he believes the biggest challenges for students will be once we graduate and how we can better prepare for them. He replied quite simply with “be more flexible.” He said that the “old ideas of graduating, moving back home and being successful in a career are fleeting.” We have to start looking elsewhere for work. “If a job happens to be somewhere far away from home, will you go?” the President asked. This is a question that future graduates must start asking themselves and preparing for. Along with those thoughts, President Maloney also said that “students must learn to be persistent.” He also said, “Students should not become discouraged if they don’t land a job right away and they should always try to find the good in every bad situation.”

After a few serious questions I decided to change the pace and get to know the President a little better. I asked him what he would like to be doing if he was not the president of our fine university. He said, “Today? Sitting on the beach” followed by laughter. He went on to tell me about his dreams of being a basketball player when he was younger growing up in the Springfield, MA area.

In the end though, President Maloney loves the field of work he is in and if he was not the president, he would still like to work in higher education. “I don’t do it for power” he said, talking about his Presidency. He simply feels that he is best candidate for the position and he believes he can bring a fresh change to Worcester State.

When his presidency is said and done with, President Maloney would only like to be remembered as “a good person.” He wants people to know that he cared about them and respected them. If asked this question some years back he said, “My answer would have been different.” What that answer would have been he could not say for sure, but he will know he has done his job right if he leaves Worcester State a better place than it was before he came through the doors.

Before I left his office, I asked the president if there was anything else he wanted to add to the interview.  He said, “I’m enjoying being this university’s president” and although he has only been here for 17 months, he said “things are looking good.” As long as he does his job he believes that “things will take care of themselves.” And then he left me with some words of wisdom. He said that I should “take risks now, while I’m young.” Also to try as much new stuff as possible and to be able to tell a good life story if the opportunity ever presents itself. In his eyes, it is not the person who has the job experience who always gets the job, sometimes it is the person who has the most life experience and has made mistakes, and learned from them.

President Maloney’s door on the 2nd floor of the administration building is always open and he always finds time to talk to students. I learned a lot during my interview with him and am grateful to have had the opportunity. Take President Maloney’s advice and use it to your advantage. Sometimes the most important lessons in life are free. However, it is up to you to listen.

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