Running five minutes late, toting a frozen dinner, checking his Droid for e-mails and carrying a pile of homework as he entered the BCC, Rob Vogel epitomizes the multi-tasking that is necessary for a FUSA president.

The job of FUSA president is a 24/7 responsibility, and those in the top position often struggle with time management. Vogel became president last month after senior Charlie Knights resigned, citing problems with balancing his FUSA work and classroom obligations.

Vogel plans to run for a full year term in the February FUSA elections. But before he or any potential rivals  submit their applications, they should have a comprehensive understanding of the FUSA president’s responsibilities and how much time it takes away from academics.

Understanding what the FUSA president does is also important for those voting in the upcoming election, as the unpaid  job is bigger and more demanding  than most students realize.


Constitution Requirements

The president “exists in that sometimes lonely and unclear space that exists between students and the administration,” according to Dr. Thomas Pellegrino, current Vice President for Student Affairs and a former FUSA president.

Most students who are not part of FUSA do not know exactly how the student government functions or what the president actually does.

According to the FUSA constitution, the president is required to “convene an Executive Council, issue a State of the University address, serve in a fiduciary capacity for the official FUSA budget and to serve as the official spokesperson for FUSA and the student body.”

The FUSA president serves as a student liaison to the administration. And as Dean of Students Karen Donoghue (another former FUSA president) puts it, the job is to “represent to the best of their ability the ideas, view points and prospective of the student body to all community constituents.”

Pellegrino stresses that if the President “sticks with their strengths and understand that the clichéd work/life balance issues are very real, but are also readily manageable.”  Thus a specific set of skills are necessary in order to be a successful FUSA president.


No Time to Spare

Administrative meetings take up about five to six hours of Vogel’s daily life, he said.

The FUSA president is responsible for overseeing and attending meetings for all other branches of the student organization such as planning boards, FUSA Senate and smaller components of the organization such as the Planning Board.

Then there is email.

Vogel estimates about two hours per day is dedicated to email correspondence with students, FUSA members, administration and local news outlets.

Just to give you an idea of the time commitment, within the 90 minute interview with The Mirror,  Vogel received about seven emails on his Droid and picked up one FUSA phone call.


Personal Skills Needed

Because the President is the communication link between the administration and student body  strong public speaking skills, as well as confidence in the presence of school leaders are imperative.

Vogel said “his ear is always to the ground,” meaning that he is always listening for student complaints, praise and complaints about the University.

It’s not a job for a party animal.  Proper behavior outside of the FUSA office is important to the president’s image and effectiveness as a liaison.  Vogel remarks that no matter where he is, he is always FUSA president and this makes the job a 24/7 obligation.

Finally, effective email, phone and face-to-face communication are required for the presidency, but also become extremely time consuming.


Balancing Responsibility

With about six hours of Vogel’s day contributed to email and meetings, Rob also takes five classes as a finance major and works at a bank in Bridgeport for 20 hours per week.

After seeing Knights struggle with time management, he said he has become “hyper-aware of his own responsibilities in and out of FUSA.”

He is looking ahead, taking steps such as meeting with a career planning advisor so that he does not fall behind on class work or miss out on planning for after graduation.


Passion Required

Vogel plans to run in the 2012-13 election.   Although FUSA drastically impacts his week to week workload, it is passion that drives him to keep at it.

FUSA president is not a for credit or paid position and it takes a special person to devote the time and effort to be the voice for Fairfield U.

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