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Rome settling in as LU president

Kevin Rome has been Lincoln University’s newest president for just over two weeks.

And he’s already been welcomed at a public reception, been the featured speaker at the Juneteenth Father’s Day banquet and taken part in his first curators meeting.

“He has been given ample support from all of you,” Curators President Herbert Hardwick of Kansas City told the administrators, faculty and staff representatives who attended Thursday’s board meeting, “and our past two presidents,” referring to Carolyn Mahoney, whose retirement last August launched the search resulting in Rome’s being hired as LU’s 19th president, and Connie Hamacher, the Jefferson City native and nursing program director who’s served as interim president since last August.

Among his first comments at Thursday’s meeting, Rome told the curators and the audience: “I’m extremely honored and excited to be here, and I wanted to, publicly, thank the curators for inviting me for this opportunity.

“And I want to thank Dr. Hamacher and her staff for all the work that they did during this last, challenging year.”

Rome also noted he feels “very prepared and up for the challenge. ... There’s not a lot to say — I’m just ready for the work.”

He later told reporters part of the challenge at LU “is how you do more with less. My goal is, just simply, to make Lincoln a better place than I found it — and that’s what I plan to focus on.”

He said there “are no surprises” with the challenges LU faces.

“I think Lincoln is consistent with many other educational institutions in the country — we’re all being faced with many issues around budget, recruitment, retention and success — and that’s what we have to focus on.”

Rome also wants to see LU “be a bigger player in this area,” especially “our relationships with the schools in this area.”

During that June 4 reception at the President’s House, 601 Jackson St., which still is being renovated and, therefore, is not the Rome family’s new home, Rome said: “I only see one Jefferson City, one Lincoln University and one community — and I see us all being part of that same community.

“And I look forward to us building that community, because there’s so much potential here — if we choose to work together and come together in collaboration.”

At the Juneteenth event last Sunday, Rome focused on the issue of fatherhood in the black community, but noted the way to move forward is through a collaborative effort of everyone in the area, regardless of race or ethnicity.

“I came here for a reason and that reason is to make a difference,” Rome said. “It has to be one community, collaboratively working to make Jefferson City and the surrounding areas better.”

During his brief remarks at that reception nearly two weeks ago, Rome noted: “There are no boundaries. There are no fences around Lincoln University.

“So Lincoln is a place for everyone in the community, and we want our students to be part of the community. Whatever we need to do to achieve that, we’re willing to do.”

After Thursday’s Curators meeting, Rome said his first days at LU have been “what I expected. I expected it to be a warm and welcoming community — and I’ve experienced that.

“The staff and faculty have been great. The community has been great.”

Madeleine Leroux of the News Tribune staff contributed information to this story.

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