Kurt Anderson was visibly stressed. The likable Student Government Association (SGA) president glanced anxiously at his watch, paced nervously and wondered aloud if the busloads of Towson University students would make it to the State House in time.
“I got about an hour of sleep last night,” the senior information technology major admitted. “This is my last Tiger Pride Day and I just want everything to go well.”
As it turned out, Anderson had nothing to worry about. Yes, one of the buses broke down before it arrived on campus Wednesday morning to pick up students for the hour-long trek to Annapolis. But that was about the only glitch in an otherwise successful 17th Tiger Pride Day.
“I’m just loving it,” TU president Kim Schatzel said of her first Tiger Pride Day. “Our students are so excited to be here advocating for the university and telling legislators what a great, great education they’re receiving at Towson.
“I ran into some students at Starbucks this morning as we were fueling up for the day,” she added, “and I told them that next year, I will be riding the bus down to Annapolis with them!”
For much of the day, Schatzel acted like a kid turned loose in a candy store. After a brief stop at the State House, where she joined students in the House gallery to watch House Speaker Mike Busch recognize Tiger Pride Day, Schatzel returned to the Miller Senate Office Building where she spent the next four hours meeting, greeting and tweeting.
Dressed in black and gold (of course!), Schatzel posed for pictures with students and legislators, took selfies that she later posted on Instagram and Twitter, and moved effortlessly around the room to introduce herself to those she hadn’t already met.
Among the many students Schatzel chatted with was sophomore Amanda Carroll, who, like the TU president, was attending her first Tiger Pride Day.
“I noticed it last year as a freshman,” said the Florida native, “and this year I was able to clear my schedule and make it happen. Not many students can say their voices were heard by state legislators, so this is just an awesome opportunity.”
Carroll was one of nearly 200 students who joined alums and faculty to lobby legislators for, among other things, continued funding for a new science building and accelerated funding for a new health professions building.
Those academic buildings were among the 2016 legislative priorities highlighted Wednesday by Anderson and SGA legislative director Pierce Jaffri.
By no means were Jaffri, Anderson, Schatzel, students and alums alone in their lobbying efforts. They were joined by an impressive list of VIP’s that included Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, University System of Maryland (USM) Associate Vice Chancellor Patrick Hogan, and state Higher Education Commission Secretary Jim Fielder.
Among the many senators and delegates who stepped to the podium to speak Wednesday afternoon were Senator Jim Brochin and Delegate Steve Lafferty.
“Keep the vision,” Brochin urged the students. “Keep moving forward, be a part of this great university and all of the great things that are happening on your campus.”
Arguably the largest applause of the afternoon came in response to comments from Gill, a TU alum (’74), longtime university supporter, and former member of the USM Board of Regents.
“For years I told my fellow regents that it was only a matter of time before Towson University ruled,” Gill said proudly. “I think we’re there!”
Nowhere was that more evident than in the state Capitol on Wednesday.