By Jesse Thomas
The Internet and social media is where the public turn to get their news, and Humber’s new president and CEO Chris Whitaker is using this as an advantage withhis blog “Chris’s Corner” which he began this semester.
But while a first for Humber, it is not a first for Whitaker who also wrote a blog while he was president of St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont.
“A lot of people’s attention is going online,” Whitaker told Humber News Friday. “So I thought it was important we address that.“
Whitaker proposed a communications plan with his team to better engage the Humber community. The first step was to create a Twitter account as president and the second to launch a blog.
“It does take discipline to get anything done on a regular basis,” said Whitaker. “So my commitment is to have something up at a minimum, once a week.”
Whitaker said he primarily writes from home on weekends and said his posts go up Mondays, coinciding with the start of the school week.
“The blog will be flexible,“ he said. The focus is not only on what’s happening around Humber but linking what’s happening here with some of the bigger issues in society.
With the blog, Whitaker hopes to engage as many people as he can and open up room for discussion to draw out many opinions about life and Humber.
“It’s not just about my ideas,” said Whitaker “It’s about building on some of the feedback that I am getting and moving forward together.”
Whitaker said there have been minimal comments on the blog but there are many people viewing the site and that is an indicator that people are finding it useful.
“People generally just love it when you’re providing information,” said Whitaker. “Most of the input is from people stopping me in the hall or when I’m at a meeting or when I do my walk-a-bouts.”
Blogging is a budding process and Whitaker said he hopes to create and grow an environment where people can be heard and bring forth brand new ideas and issues.
“We want to continue to create an environment where more people are comfortable here,” said Whitaker. “Through the blog and through improving our communications we can create a place where people know they can speak up.”
Whitaker said he knows other school presidents who are also writing a blog but hopes to see more people pick it up.
“I don’t think you can be afraid to get out there,” said Whitaker. “You should be provocative or at least thought provoking. If not you won’t generate discussion.”
Whitaker said the process for the most part been constructive.
“I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Whitaker. “It’s not all about, just getting good news. You can’t be blind to the things that need to be improved. It’s about continuous improvement—that’s why were all here.”
Andrew Leopold, associate director of PR and communications, helped develop the blog and believes this is a great way for the Humber community to connect with the president and share their opinions, issues and ideas affecting them.
“The buzz around the blog has been positive from students and faculty,” said Leopold. “We measured the views and initially there was well over 11,000 views for the blog and the most active time is generally 24-48 hours after the post.”
“This is another platform to show what Humber is all about,” said Humber web developer Jed De La Cruz. “We put in a lot of effort to make sure the blog works across all different platforms and screen sizes.
Cruz, who helped design the blog project, said it was a nice break from what he is used to doing with the corporate page development.
“This was a neat project and provides the president with a direct way to communicate,” he said. “It’s minimalist and plain. It’s just his words.”