Dr. Zulma R. Toro will step into office on January 3, as the first female president of Central Connecticut State University. She was eager to speak with Blue Muse to answer students’ most requested questions, and highlight some of her immediate plans for campus.
First I want to congratulate you, I know you were unanimously voted in as president.
Thank you, I am looking forward to being there on January the 3.
As the first female president of CCSU, how do you think that will change your role as president?
Sometimes you want to not focus that much on gender, but definitely it’s important. As a female leader sometimes you are different from your male counterparts. I think that people will have certain expectations, and sometimes you are able to meet those expectations, and sometimes you prove them completely wrong.
What do you think is the most important function of a university president?
To serve as the strongest and most passionate advocate for the students. There is a role that the president plays in establishing a relationship with elected officials, with community leaders, with the people at large outside the university. The president has to be able to articulate the value of the institution and why the university deserves the support of all these people, groups, and organizations. It’s the president’s role to bring people together. Higher education is about providing opportunities to people.
A lot of students are worried about rising costs of tuition, what are some plans to help bring down costs?
I’ve already had some conversations with some of the members of the leadership team in terms of what we can do as tuition increases. I will try to contain costs on one hand, understand the limited resources that the institution currently uses, and if they are in the right places. Given my background in industrial engineering, we will take a system approach and look at everything in terms of how we are using these resources. If there is a need for a relocation of resources, we will embark in that endeavor. If we get to the conclusion that we need more resources in an area, and less in another area, or need to do things differently in a way to decrease the need for resources, we will do that. Another priority of mine is the establishment of a need-based scholarship program. We currently have some, but I would like to see if we can expand that. It’s one of my top priorities.
I believe in the power of higher education.
You bring up a great point about resources. How do you think you’ll balance the needs of both the STEM and humanities fields in terms of allocating resources and funding?
I am a very strong advocate of the humanities and the arts. I am convinced that we have the best nation that educates the best scientists and engineers in the world because of the liberal arts programs. I got an engineering degree from a five-year program that was five-years because of all the humanities and social science [courses] that I had to take.
One of the things that has made me successful is my foundation in the liberal arts. I am a strong advocate of the Liberal Arts. There are ways to maintain a balance that values and disciplines, but at the same time values the liberal arts. If you are going to have a comprehensive university you have to have that balance. The university could be even stronger if you merge those disciplines together. I believe in multidisciplinary education.
What would you like all CCSU students to know about you when you come into office in January?
It’s important for the students to know that I am available. If any student would like to meet with me, I am available to meet with them. I am there because of them. I believe in the power of higher education. I believe that higher education is the most effective mechanism for social mobility. That is my commitment, and I am looking forward to delivering on that commitment.