It’s 4 p.m. on a Monday and Laurie Joyner is awaiting the arrival of the elevator in Hollenbeck Hall. Upstairs on the third floor is a room full of a select group of faculty members that make up the Faculty Executive Board (FEB).
This is one of several groups of constituents she will meet with during our travels with her. For the last six hours alone, she has met with community members to include them in the discussion of the Athletic Director candidates, approved her staff’s time cards, and taken a phone call with a financial ratings group, among other things.
Joyner starts her day early: “This morning at 4 a.m.” Because she was invited to the Ms. Witt Pageant, her day would not end until 11 p.m.
Joyner comes from a humble background. “My father was an electrician and my mom was a stay at home mom,” she said. When growing up “higher education was always a question” for her family. At young age, it was not clear whether she would be able to go to college, but she made sure that her grades were well maintained in high school.
Joyner had a fair share of hardships in starting of an undergraduate degree. “My dad had cancer,” she said. Because of this, she decided to go to college closer to home. “I looked at Loyola University New Orleans and Tulane University,” Joyner said.
Her parents told her, “they would sort-of pay for half” if she could pay the other half, whether that meant borrowing money or working while in school. Joyner said she “ended up having to do all of that and more.”
“I was not on the job market, when I got called about the Wittenberg job,” she said. “I was actually being called about completely different job at a completely different place. When I read about Wittenberg’s mission, …it brought tears to my eyes because it was so similar to my undergraduate education that completely transformed me as a human-being.”
Laurie Joyner tries to live by the motto: “If we focus on mission and focus on students the rest will take care of itself.”
“When I was a faculty member I would not get on Facebook or any kind of social media,” Joyner admitted of her use with social media. “I was very concerned about the relationship between me as a faculty member and a student. It was not really until I became President when I started engaging in social media a lot more because I realized that’s the only way I going to get to…students.”
Joyner says while her comfort level may have not been in favor of social media, “it goes back to the core, the mission and the students and even though my comfort level may have not been great with those forms of social media early on I just realize it is so important for me to be there for students.”
When you’re on Facebook complaining remember that one very important person could be reading your post and when you’re complaining about the university. For example this past winter when the university sent several emails regarding the weather closing policy Joyner tells us, “Its not uncommon when you guys [students] complain on social media I am the first one to know. Then, I am the one calling the vice-presidents to bring about action.”