Walking up the creaking 172-year-old steps of the Administration Building takes you to no ordinary office. Â Â Professionally decorated with a charming, southern-belle secretary there to greet me, the place just seemed, well, presidential. The wood shined and the couches were soft.Â This was the office of the man who leads us, President Michael Maxey.Â I was there to discover the man behind the bowtie.
Walking in with his rounded glasses and crisp suit at 9am, the President was already well into his day. Sitting at a large wooden table I found out what the life of President Maxey is like.
Growing up just an hour south of here, President Maxey received a Master’s Degree in counseling from Wake Forest. After working at Wake for a little while, Maxey came to Roanoke in 1985, where he worked his way up the ranks to be the eleventh president of RC.Â According to Maxey, he liked Roanoke when he first arrived, however he expected to move on after 3-4 years to something else.
“But I liked the students here and that the college was fundamentally sound, but was still getting better. And they kept giving me new projects,” Maxey said.
A self-proclaimed problem solver, Maxey found the work stimulating and frequently took on challenging projects throughout campus.
Being so involved was cemented in Maxey’s beliefs while an undergrad at Wake. A freshman in biology class, trying to blend in, Maxey heard his professor call his name and ask for him to stay after class.
“I thought â€˜oh no I’ve done something bad,'” Maxey said.
After, he went down and the professor asked, “I saw you at the opera last night, are you an opera lover?” Maxey replied that he wasn’t, but he had seen flyers saying that Leontyne Price, “the foremost soprano in the world”, was singing.
“So I thought, â€˜best in the world?!'” Maxey said,Â “‘I gotta go hear!’ and he said to me, â€˜that’s exactly what you have to do to take full advantage of Wake Forest.’ So for the rest of my college career I tried to go to as many activities as possible.”
Maxey said the attention he got from that professor is what helped inspire him to work with students.
“All he did was call my name and say, â€˜you’re doing the right thing, fella’. It wasn’t any big deal that he said that, it was that he took the time to make a difference in my life. And I’ve been so grateful for that, I’ve tried to get to know students as a part of my work, and let them know how important they are here.”
If getting on a personal level with students is pure joy for President Maxey, the rest of the job is just fun to him.
Though there is no typical day in the life of the president, here is one day in the life of President Michael Maxey.Â 7:45am: faculty member breakfast; 9am Brackety Ack interview; 10:00am phone call with trustee; 11:45am academic achievement luncheon; 1:00pm Two fundraising calls; 2pm student meeting; 3pm United Way conference call; 4pm Write two thank you letters to donors; and prepare for a trustee meeting later this week.
Maxey says that 1/3 of his time is spent fund raising, 1/3 general management and policy making, and 1/3 official duties such as speeches or welcoming special guests to campus.
“I end up being the cheerleader, spokesman and advocate for the college in a lot of ways,” Maxey said.
“There’s tremendous variety, no one could ever get tired of this job. Some of it is great fun, and some of it’s very challenging. But the two things I enjoy the most are students first and variety secondâ€¦ I’ve got a great job.”
And we have a great president.