From classroom to boardroom: Conner McKinney is voice of VU students

From classroom to boardroom: Conner McKinney is voice of VU students

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October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – As an intern in Vincennes University’s Admissions Office, Conner McKinney knows basic details of academic degrees, recruitment, financial aid, admissions, housing, and other areas. His mission is to connect students with the very best information and educational opportunities for them.

McKinney is also a bridge between VU students and the VU Board of Trustees.

He is the new student trustee. McKinney (Sumner, Illinois) took the oath of office during a meeting of the Board of Trustees on Oct. 5. His term runs through Oct. 3, 2021.

“Conner has a passion for VU,” VU Associate Director of Admissions Brent Magruder said. “A true, deep-rooted passion that has shown through since his first day in the office. He wants the University to succeed. He wants every prospective student he comes in contact with to have the best possible experience while on campus. Conner goes out of his way to provide assistance to visitors of the Admissions Office by both showcasing University resources and by sharing his own "VU story". It's not uncommon to see this type of passion for the University from a senior level tour guide, but Conner proved in his first year of being a guide that he cares about this University.”

The role of a student trustee is a significant responsibility. The governor of Indiana appoints trustees.

VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson and Board of Trustees Chair John Stachura were among the first to welcome McKinney.

“First of all, a student trustee has total authority of any board member, including me or Dr. Johnson,” Stachura said. "Their input is highly appreciated because they come with the perspective of college students. They can educate us on what we need to be looking at. It is a very important role. We have had some great student trustees. We have always had a lot of good input from the student trustee. That’s why we keep that particular position going. We’ve got to have that student perspective. When I went to college, it is a lot different than today with a lot of new challenges. Since none of us are on campus as a college student, we don’t know the answers to some of these questions.”

Talking with McKinney’s peers, it is evident he is well-suited for his new post.

“Conner is a really good student for it,” VU chemical engineering major Nathan Wirth said. “He listens really well and cares about everybody. He always knows what's going on. He also really chimes in. He just doesn’t want to go along with everything. He wants to be heard.”

Currently a second-year student, McKinney is studying business administration after switching from biological biomedical sciences. Working in Admissions has sparked his interest in marketing and public relations.

The student trustee post was attractive to the 2019 Red Hill High School graduate after Magruder suggested McKinney would be a perfect candidate for the appointment.

“Conner is honest, self-composed, and has a positive disposition,” Chemistry Associate Professor Dr. Teresa Tarbuck said. “ He works well with others, even those he disagrees with, and will make a practical representative of the VU community. He knows how to compromise and is aware of the dynamics and diversity of the student body.”

Serving as the voice of the student is a duty McKinney is looking forward to upholding.

“Especially in this day and age of giving everybody a voice, letting everybody’s opinion be heard is big,” McKinney said. “Never throw anybody’s opinion out. Hearing students’ views and taking them to the board meetings is something I really want to do.”

It is clear he plans to stand for the student body he serves.

“I speak up when I have ideas and I push a positive message all the time,” McKinney said.

Magruder describes McKinney as a natural-born leader. He points out how he brings tour groups together using a light-hearted approach. He notes McKinney has fun and enjoys time with his fellow guides, but he also leads them to complete projects, learn new tasks, etc.

“Conner's passion for the University mixed with his ability to listen and connect with his peers will help him excel in the role of student trustee," Magruder said. "He will be eager to take new ideas or student concerns to the Board in an effort to make Vincennes University the best campus possible for its students.”

McKinney's insight into what is best for current college students should serve him well.

“Ever since he was little he has been so trendy and up to date on the new things,” said Lydia Higgins, a VU elementary education major and McKinney’s sister. “I think it is great for someone like him to be the voice of students because we want new things and new things that apply to us, and he is a great person to do that."