Although he woke up around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, President Michael Shonrock didn’t arrive to the office until a couple hours later.
“I was actually working in my home office, catching up (and) preparing for some stuff,” Shonrock said. “So, I probably got into the office around 7 o’clock or so – a little late for me.”
Karen Shonrock, ESU’s first lady, said their day usually starts between 5 and 5:30 a.m.
“I usually do get up at the same time,” she said. “So I’m good with that.”
She said her husband isn’t one for breakfast and usually just starts the day with a cup of coffee.
A self-described “incurable optimist,” Shonrock didn’t consider that particular day any busier than any other day of the year.
“It was a Monday,” he said. “After a wonderful Homecoming weekend, we had a number of activities my wife and I did, so it was just a continuation of the previous week.”
Beginning around the time he arrived at work, the president’s schedule was filled with meetings. First, he put together the bi-monthly newsletter “I am a Hornet,” formerly called “The Buzz,” which contains information about goings-on on campus and in the community.
Sarah McKernan, executive assistant to the president, said she doesn’t think of what she does for Shonrock as “help.”
“I prefer to think of it as supporting him and doing whatever is necessary to make his day run smoother,” McKernan said. “Michael is a very organized person and makes it a priority to be about five steps ahead at all times. My job is to help prioritize those and work with the president to make the most efficient use of his time.”
At 8 a.m., the president met with David Cordle, provost, and following that, with the, DenaSue Potestio, Foundation President. Both are weekly meetings.
Then at 9 a.m., Shonrock met with the Council, a gathering of vice presidents, deans and other key campus leaders.
“The first half of the meeting was really about strategic planning and where we are with developing our mission,” Shonrock said. “Then, we (went) around the table updating each other on all the things that are going on. It ranges from legislative things to a recap a little bit on the weekend. (It’s) just amazing the number of things going on at Emporia State University.”
Straying from the normative day of meetings on and around campus, the afternoon took Shonrock and Cordle to Wichita for the grand re-opening of the Kansas Leadership Center. There, Shonrock and Cordle are starting a training program in partnership with the KLC. Shonrock said that the three-day training program will teach educators how to imbed civic leadership into their curriculum.
But, with meetings all day, Shonrock finds it hard to have lunch.
“At their board meeting, they had their lunch, so we sort of quickly ate a little bit with them,” he said. “Sometimes, I either forget my lunch or eat it quickly at my desk. I don’t even remember what I had, but I’m sure it was good.”
After wrapping up in Wichita, Shonrock made his way back to Emporia for even more meetings. He talked with the faculty senate, and again with Cordle and Potestio to further discuss strategic planning, until 6 p.m.
Though he will sometimes stay in the office late, McKernan said Shonrock doesn’t make his staff stay, too.
“There are days that we’ll begin earlier and end later if there is an important project that necessitates it,” McKernan said. “Staying late is a personal choice on my part. Many times if staff is still in the office after 5 p.m., he will encourage us to call it a day and head home.”
From 6-7 p.m., Shonrock met with some community groups where he sits as a trustee.
After the day seemed to have calmed down, Shonrock and his wife ordered Wheat State Pizza for dinner – canadian bacon with thin crust.
“We took a little time to eat and I worked in my home office,” Shonrock said.
He worked until 10 or 11 p.m. that evening.
Still, the Shonrocks don’t have a set nighttime routine. The couple will usually read or watch TV. Though Michael is busy, Karen said they have a good time together, which makes their schedule conflicts easier.
“For one thing, I think he loves what he’s doing,” she said. “We have great students and faculty and spending time with them really puts him in a good mood. That’s his natural disposition.”
“For the record, I over-married, and I know it,” Michael said. “This is a team effort, a team sport. I’m fortunate enough that she is willing to take the time. She knows what we signed up for. Good news is, we’re both involved in a number of things.”
After the meetings are over and he has had time to relax, Shonrock said you just have to believe you can win.
“A lot of the things that seem impossible are possible,” Shonrock said.