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Staff Spotlight: Student Affairs Vice President Cedric Gathings

Courtesy of University Communications

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Editor’s Note: Cedric Gathings, 45, is the vice president for student affairs at Marshall University. Gathings’ job is to tend to the overall success of students by maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degree in science from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He and his wife, Kimberly, have three children. The Parthenon recently interviewed Gathings using a style borrowed from the Marcel Proust/Vanity Fair magazine format, which is designed to reveal the personal side of newsmakers.

Q: What is your most marked characteristic?

A: I think my personality. I can work with any group of people. Once I get a feel for that person’s personality, it’s easy for me to get woven into the conversation.

Q: What is the quality you like most in a man?

A: Leading by example. Someone who not only tells you but will also show you. If there’s someone that doesn’t do it the way it should be done, you just work with them and teach them how to do it.

Q: What is the quality you like most in a woman?

A: I’m smiling because there are so many different qualities. In particular, I think about my wife. I do like women who are independent, but loving and submissive all in one. Just knowing how to comfort when you need to be comforted. My mom died Aug. 25 of this year, and my wife has taken a lot of time to allow me to grieve in different ways. She understands that it’s not her job to be a mother or caretaker but to just be someone that’s there for me. Having the freedom and independence to do what they want but still knowing how to love and care at the same time.

Q: What do you value most in your friends?

A: Honesty. It’s hard to interact with people that you can’t trust. Once I feel like I can’t trust you, it changes the whole dynamic of the relationship.

Q: What is your favorite occupation?

A: My favorite thing to do is honestly being a dad. A lot of people see it as a tough job. I don’t really see it as a tough job. I see it as being someone who is shaping and molding these young lives to be something greater than themselves. I can honestly say that my wife and I work really hard and my children will probably never know what struggle is in a bad way. Just being a voice of reason, comfort and support system for them is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: Perfect happiness is you just learning to accept things for how they are and just believing that God knows. Everything happens for a reason. There’s no point in me questioning my mother’s death. I just know that he moved me nine hours away because he knew that her death was coming and if I would have stayed in the same area with her, I don’t think that my grieving process would be what it is. It would probably be a lot worse.

Q: What is your regard of the lowest depth of misery?

A: Just not being happy with yourself and allowing other people to define who you are. Growing up, there were eight of us. I was the second of eight children, and my parents were considered to be the ‘black sheep’ of the family. People had written our narrative based off of my dad’s actions. He was the local drunk and he got into a lot of activities as we were growing up. Unfortunately, her side of the family had already said what we couldn’t do and what we weren’t going to do. They decided where were going to be when we were old enough to be independent.

Q: In which country would you like to live?

A: I like living here. I would say just staying here. I enjoy being an American, but I wouldn’t mind to travel the world. If I could spend a month in every country just to have that experience, I would.

Q: Who are your favorite writers?

A: Spiritually, since I lost my mom, I have found myself reading a lot of Joel Osteen. I also enjoy TD Jakes and John Christian.

Q: Who are your favorite poets?

A: I love Maya Angelou. Since my mom passed, I’ve found myself just going and reading her work, not looking for anything in particular, but trying to figure out how I fit into this and how does it tie into what I do and who I am as a person. It’s funny that you ask that question because I really feel that a lot of my identity was lost when I lost my mother. Just reading Angelou’s work helped me regain focus in life.

Q: Who is your favorite heroine in fiction?

A: When I think of heroes, I’ve always considered my mom to be a number one champion and cheerleader through the good and bad. Even before she got ill, she could always find an answer. She could always find an answer. Fiction or nonfiction, my mom has always been someone who is a hero and a champion.

Q: Who are your favorite composers?

A: I have found myself again resorting to Fred Hammond and Tasha Cobb. In particular Tasha Cobb because in one of her songs, she sings ‘there’s a miracle in this room with your name on it.’ ‘Jesus is my refuge’ became my summer theme song. I realized that I had to give myself away and just allow Jesus to move me along.

Q: Who are your favorite painters?

A: I’m really not into art, but if you’ll look behind you, my boys did some art. We’ve kept a book of all of their art ever since they could make a mark to look back and show them when they’re older.

Q: What are your favorite names?

A: Kaylee, Chase and Cedric. Those are my children’s names. And, of course, Kimberly, that’s my wife. For every Linda that I meet, I always ask them where their name came from because that was my mom’s name.

Q: What is it that you most dislike?

A: People being dishonest.

Q: Which talent would you most like to have?

A: In addition to my good looks and personality, I would like to sing.

Q: How would you like to die?

A: If I could have it my way, I would like for my wife and children to be at my bedside. I just want it to be as smooth and painless as possible for my family.

Q: What is your current state of mind?

A: As happy as I am, my heart is still broken. Mentally, I’m fine but my heart is still broken. I know that it’s okay to feel the way that I feel. When people talk about having a broken heart, I now know what that means. It’s tough and it’s life. This is what God planned.

Q: What is your motto?

A: No matter what the outside is doing, you do your part. You do it to your best ability. If everybody around you is dancing to another tune but you know you’re singing the right lyrics, you do what you know is right. At the end of the day, you will be fine.

Kabrea James can be contacted at [email protected]

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Staff Spotlight: Student Affairs Vice President Cedric Gathings”

  1. Terra L Muncy on December 1st, 2017 12:35 pm

    It would be different if the question was about his wife. The question was, “What quality do you like most in a woman?” By immediately imagining his wife and then equating all women with her, he made the mistake many men make. Women fit in his life only as partners not as complete human beings that exist outside of men. Notice the same question about men. He talks about them as leaders and mentors. Women can be independant as long as they are loving and submissive. Do you see the problem?

    I would not put him in the bad guy catagory. But good guys can perpetuate bad ideas in the world. Next time save that answer for what you personally desire in a wife. Look at the successful women around you. There are quite a few. Surely you admire some of them. Pick the qualities of those women to talk about. And remember when people ask you about women, take a minute…think about someone other than your mother and your wife. Then answer.

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  2. Perry Barber on December 3rd, 2017 12:41 am

    This is one of the strangest “interviews,” if you can call it that, I’ve ever read. The questions are bizarre, and Mr. Gathings’ answers reveal a disturbing perspective on a woman’s role in professional and family life that should be of serious concern to the university at which he is charged with “maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment.” If he really believes that men should be “leading by example” and women should be “independent… but submissive” – which makes no sense at all if you stop to think about what those diametrically opposed qualities actually mean – then I fear for the female students at Marshall.

    There are great, visionary educators at Marshall; Dr. Kat Williams, who teaches history, the kind of history that doesn’t gloss over women’s contributions to humanity but features them front and center, is one of them. Mr. Gathings, on the other hand, appears to be much more suited to “medieval studies” than he is to “maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment.”

    After reading this interview, I suddenly feel as if I’ve plummeted toward “the lowest depth of misery.” Marshall students deserve better than what Mr. Gathings has to offer them.

    [Reply]

  3. AJ Richard on December 3rd, 2017 1:31 am

    Why was he asked hisx fav quality in a woman? Bizzarre and disturbing. Inappropriate.

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  4. Kat Williams on December 4th, 2017 3:22 pm

    There are many problems with this interview, but I am not a journalist so I will not focus my comments there. I am a feminist, a professor of women’s history, former director of women’s studies, former chair of the state women’s commission and now president of an international organization that focuses on the importance of gender equity in all aspects of life, including sports. And, I am appalled. Appalled that a VP of this University, one that is charged with the massive responsibility of student services and maintaining diversity on campus, would admit in public that he values men who lead by example and women who are submissive. He says it is important for men to set good examples and I certainly agree which makes this interview even more disturbing. Think about the example this interview sets for Marshall Students, the message it gives to the men on campus. A culture of sexism has thrived on this campus for decades and for all the reasons we already know it has gone largely unchecked. “I will lose my job if I speak up.” “No one will believe me.” “Oh, he didn’t mean it, he just used the wrong word.” “He is such a good guy.” “Well, he’s a professor.” Enough! We cannot continue to protect a culture that makes it possible for a person with this attitude to get hired and then feel so emboldened that he would speak it publicly. This is 2017 not 1955 and for anyone, especially a person in an administrative position to say these things is inexcusable. Speak up! Tell your stories and demand to be heard. Women lead by example too.

    [Reply]

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