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Medaille College community gets to meet, welcome new president

Students, staff and faculty at Medaille College met their new president Wednesday and heard about the high hopes he has for the school in North Buffalo.

Richard T. Jurasek, executive vice president at Antioch College in Ohio, made his first visit to the campus on Agassiz Circle since being appointed Medaille's sixth president by the board of trustees last week.

He spent Wednesday getting acquainted with members of the campus community and listening to what challenges he faces leading the private four-year school in this highly competitive college market.

"There are only three real challenges -- money, money and money," Jurasek said, half-joking.

Jurasek, 60, talked in broad terms about his aspirations to expand the college and improve on what Medaille is already doing.

"We know we can pay the bills," Jurasek said, "but will we have enough money to explore this or develop that?"

Jurasek, a foreign-language scholar, succeeds Joseph W. Bascuas, who resigned last October. Jurasek was chosen from among 45 applicants for the job. He will assume the post June 1 and plans to move to Buffalo with his wife, Barbara.

Students on Wednesday said the new president seemed personable and approachable -- an asset the board of trustees is counting on to help raise money and reach out to the larger Western New York community.

"He seems like the kind of guy you could go to for anything," said Mark Steinel, president of Medaille's Student Government Association. "I think he's going to be absolutely great for the job."

Jurasek, who earned master's and doctorate degrees in German from Ohio State University -- was a longtime professor at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., then served as dean of faculty at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

In 2003, he went to Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, near Dayton, where he first served as vice president and dean of faculty, then chief operations officer with direct responsibility for admissions, financial aid, auxiliary service and academic and student affairs.

Medaille faculty Wednesday reacted positively to Jurasek, according to Robert E. Nesslin, Faculty Council chairman. "I think it's been positive from the faculty standpoint, because he knows so much about the academic side," he said.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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