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York prez offers students personal service

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Hampton, who took over the school last year, hands out his business cards to students waiting in line at the bursar's office to make a tuition payment, get information or change their schedules.

He asks the students to call him once they are finished at the bursar's office and tell him how long they waited and how efficient and adequate the service was when they got to the head of the line.

"Some of them are shocked," Hampton said in an interview with the TimesLedger last Thursday. "I care about the student experience. I care about the students who take a day off work to buy their books, take care of their schedule and financial aid. I don't want them to have to take another day off because they didn't get everything done."

Hampton, 55, was named the fifth president of the school late last May, and after heading the school for a year, he was officially invested Friday at York's 34th annual commencement ceremony. Hampton took the reins from Dr. Russell Hotzler, who was named interim president after Dr. Charles Kidd resigned in 2002.

Hampton, who lives in Douglaston, came from an associate provost position at the University of Maryland College Park. He has written a number of books on family violence, particularly within black families. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Princeton University and his master's and doctorate in the same field at the University of Michigan.

But when Hampton started at York in June 2003, he walked into a school in need of a few adjustments, he said.

"It was like a paratrooper coming in and hitting the ground running and I haven't stopped running since," he said. "There are lots of wonderful things here. We have to find the right chemistry to balance it."

After spending a few months listening to the students, faculty and staff, Hampton is working with a consultant to reorganize the school's leadership, he said. The school has had tremendous turnover in some of its top positions, and Hampton is hoping to better match people, their interests and their skills with key positions, he said.

Hampton also wants to capitalize on what the school has, including a relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which has offices on the school campus, and the Port Authority and Federal Aviation Administration through the new Aviation Institute.

"We're creating some excitement," he said. "York has to be known for something and hopefully for many things."

The school started an occupational therapy program last year and a physician's assistant program will welcome students in the fall, Hampton said. But the president would like to expand those programs and add an accounting program, a master's in biotechnology and a master's in social work, he said.

Smaller projects to invigorate the campus are also underway, he said. Red banners were added last year to identify the school and its buildings. A pedestrian mall on 159th Street has been discussed to connect the campus and the community.

"You also have to create a campus where people believe things are possible," he said. "It's the kind of institutional pride where the janitor gives me thumbs-up or a professor says she can see the signs from the Long Island Rail Road."

Hampton is also hoping to increase enrollment by 500 students by the fall, bringing this year's student population of 5,800 to 6,300. He has been encouraging faculty and students to wear red and black buttons bearing the slogan "Each One Recruit One," he said.

"There's a sense of energy and hope, and not just because commencement is tomorrow," he said. "There's a feeling that we can take York to the next level."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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