The 2017 fall semester here at Colorado State University-Pueblo has not only brought in new students, but also a new president of the university.
Timothy Mottet was chosen for the position in April. Since then he has been walking around campus, working hard to improve student’s experiences, and making changes.
Mottet is from a small town in southeast Iowa, called Brighton, where his family of six owned a farm he grew up on. “I call it the old country,” Mottet said during faculty and staff convocation Aug. 14. “I go to my village to see my people. It’s a village of 500.”
He lived and helped on the farm for 18 years, but after graduating high school, Mottet decided to go to college. Mottet’s father was educated up to eighth grade and his mother graduate from high school. This made Mottet a first generation college graduate for his family. “We are a family of first,” he said. “I am a first generation college student.”
Mottet earned a bachelor of arts in communication from William Jewell College in 1984, a master of science in mass communication from Boston University in 1993, and a doctorate in instructional communication from West Virginia University in 1998. He also co-authored four books and published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.
In May 2002, Mottet married the love of his life, Rick González. When Mottet talk about his story during his welcome speech for convocation, he emphasized how his story was González’s story. “Our two families came together 18 years ago in south Texas,” Mottet said. “We realized our families lived about a mile apart and had lived a mile apart for a number of years.”
Mottet’s success in college reflected on his success in his career path. He served as a professor of communications between 1998 and 2007 at Texas State University. On RateMyProfeesor.com students were fans.
“Amazing professor! Extremely captivating and the perfect example of what public speaking should look like,” one student wrote. “Phenomenal conflict resolution techniques are taught in this class that are very useful in the workplace. One of my favorite professors. He’s makes the material extremely interesting which made me really want to attend his classes.”
Another said, “By far, the toughest class I’ve had in grad school with the most work, but well worth it. I learned so much about how to be an effective teacher. I recommend it to anyone who thinks they might want to teach.”
Mottet then moved to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley where he was chair of the Department of Communication from 2007 to 2011. Following his time there, he returned to Texas State to be the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication from 2011-2014. In 2014 Mottet moved to Missouri and became provost at Northwest Missouri State University.
Mottet worked to keep higher education accessible and affordable to all through developing strategic relationships with area high schools and community colleges and helped design an academic vision around. This vision was profession-based learning where faculty work with industry professionals to develop curriculum and learning opportunities that prepare students to be both professionals and engaged citizens. Mottet was provost until April of 2017 when he was chosen as the top candidate for the new CSU-Pueblo University president.
“Rick found the job at pueblo in the newspaper,” Mottet said. “That night we went home and we started reading the ad and doing a deep dive and I said, ‘Should we apply?’”
Mottet addressed faculty and staff Aug. 14 to not only a welcome them back to the school year, but he also talked to the university as a community in his address he titled, Writing Our Story Together. “I do not want to be the new president, who comes in and fails to recognized or to validate what all of you have been through,” Mottet said. “I have been a faculty member in a department of communications studies, with a new president who was all about moving forward and did not acknowledge history or the past and what we have been through.”
One earlier plan, which Mottet is continuing, addresses retention. Currently the university has been working with a vendor called Capture. The university, he said, hopes to create relationships with Pueblo-area high schools and bring in more students after they graduate. “We need to be more visible as an option to these students,” Mottet said.
Mottet also said CSU-P needs to aid families and their children with the enrollment and application process. “We need to help the families of these students understand how to go about sending their children to college,” he said. “We need relationships with not only school boards and the staff, but also with the parents.”
Talk of building relationships with local students, turned to talk of investing in a variety of students, such as military and commuter students. “There are many different reasons why students are here and what I want for them to understand is why they are here,” he said. “Knowing what this is all for will help them have a successful college career.”
Mottet has experience many obstacles on his way to being CSU-Pueblo’s 15th president. “The greatest thing that I have learned and we have learned is this thing called empathy,” he said.