‘An upfront kind of guy’


Liv Fjell / The Chart

Vice President for Academic Affairs AJ Anglin works at his desk last week. Anglin is promising increased transparency.

When it comes to higher education, AJ Anglin just can’t stay away.

Over the summer months, Anglin was named Missouri Southern’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, a position without a permanent replacement since John Messick left the post in summer 2009. Anglin has previously worked for six other universities, but considers Southern his “last hurrah.”

“This would be my last show … my capstone experience,” Anglin told a room of faculty last May when interviewing for the VPAA position.

To work at Southern, he came out of retirement — his second retirement. He has said he went into retirement because that’s what “the calendar says to do,” but after spending 40 years of his life in higher education, he had to come back.  Being the chief academic officer, he says, it’s what he does best.

“I just have great joy being with students and faculty, so I’m happy to be back (to work),” Anglin said.

Anglin has a doctorate in physical chemistry. He is also the past president of a rotary club, chamber of commerce board member and he developed a community leadership program. But those aren’t the things he brought up when he told The Chart this week what he wants the campus to know about him.

“I’m an upfront kind of guy … I think faculty value that,” Anglin said. “I’m really comfortable at going over and introducing myself and saying, ‘Here’s who I am, who are you?'”

Anglin talked about how much he enjoys working with both faculty and students. Anglin knows what it’s like to be a member of faculty. For 12 years, Anglin was a chemistry professor at Taylor University in Upland, Ind. During that time (1970-82), Anglin was also the school’s interim VPAA, dean of instruction and director of faculty development. He brings some experience into the mix at Southern.

“(I) don’t make the assumption that because (an idea) worked at one place that it will work at another,” Anglin said. “And the flipside is true.”

He hopes to build a trust with faculty at Southern by being transparent and approachable, all while doing what is best for students.

“My great satisfaction is to see programs and services get better for students; that’s very fulfilling to me,” Anglin said. “I really want an institution to be … student-oriented.”

The international mission is one of the reasons Anglin was attracted to Southern.

“I’d love for every student who comes through here to be immersed in another culture,” he said.

Because Anglin has only worked in private institutions prior to Southern, he has some experience bringing in dollars without help from the state. With a budget crisis in the state of Missouri and an uncertain future for higher education, Anglin wants to help out.

“I think we’re going to have to be more cost-efficient,” Anglin said. “Education is not going to escape this one: how can you do more with less?”

“(That’s something) that I look forward to working with the rest of the campus, not that I have the single solution,” Anglin said.

Even though he admits he doesn’t have all the answers, Anglin came prepared to help lead the University, and he wants to know if the faculty think he’s doing a good job.

“It’s well known that you evaluate faculty … I want (them) to evaluate me,” Anglin said. “Lead by example.”