5 questions with…USG President, civil engineer James Hale

Hey students: James Hale wants to hear from you. As president of the Undergraduate Student Government, Hale is organizing the upcoming State of the University Address, during which President Barbara R. Snyder will reflect on the past year, share plans for the future and answer questions from students.

So to ensure his constituents’ voices are heard, Hale instated a new initiative this year: an online forum to which students could post questions for President Snyder to answer during her remarks. Questions posed on the forum ranged from housing to academic concerns—topics that weigh heavy on the minds of students.

Though the forum is now closed, Hale still encourages students to get their questions answered by attending the address, to be held Oct. 30 at 6:30 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium, and asking their questions directly to President Snyder.

Beyond noting students’ concerns at the State of the University Address, Hale wants to hear from undergraduate students personally, to find out how he can help improve campus.

Already, Hale has created opportunities for students: As a first-year student, he co-founded the Student Golfers’ Association on campus and, through USG, he has initiated projects such as upgrades to athletic equipment and facilities, evaluating the prospect of becoming a smoke free campus, and creating a borrowable projectors program in the area offices.

Plus, he’s helping change the Cleveland community; for his senior capstone project, the civil engineering major is designing a bridge along the Cleveland Metroparks’ towpath.

When he’s not busy thinking of ways to improve Case Western Reserve, Hale can be found spending time with his brothers of Beta Theta Pi, going skiing or golfing, or playing the ukulele. (He’s even got his own personalized ukulele that his high school friends wrote words of wisdom on—“kind of like a yearbook, but 10 times better,” he said.)

So what more is there to know about the Denver native? Quite a bit, actually. Read on and find out more.

1. What are you reading—and how are you reading it (print vs. digital)?
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading newspapers, mostly the business section, in preparation for interviews. Whenever I get a free hour or two, though, I chip away at 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami on my tablet. Carrying around a slim computer screen is definitely a lot easier than a bag full of books.

2. What can’t you live without?
Music! Somehow music permeates just about everything. It can be my “cup of coffee” and give me a boost to make it through a long homework session, be the soundtrack to the book I’m reading, be a great way to spend a Friday night, or even be a way to measure driving distance (Denver is about 15 albums away).

3. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The SAGES Café, by far, for three reasons: I much prefer chatting over coffee to meeting in an office, the windows make it feel like you are sitting outside (being from Denver I practically grew up outside), and with the fishbowl, a coffee shop, and the writing center all in one place, there are great opportunities for people watching.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice (of recent memory) I’ve gotten came in the form of permission. My first-year adviser, Dr. [Barbara Burgess-] Van Aken, let me know that it was OK to explore majors and classes when I came to her with uncertainties about pursuing aerospace engineering. I took her “permission” and ran with it—spending a semester as a psychology major, a couple as an undeclared engineer, and, ultimately, finding civil engineering.

Her advice extends beyond classes. Through exploring career options outside of my major, I have found a new path into the real world that will be even more fulfilling than the path I was pursuing a year ago.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
The people. It may be cliché, but I can’t imagine a senior year at any other university in which I would have as many friends spanning different classes, staff, professors, the administration and into the community. I owe a lot to the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate while being on campus and look forward to staying connected after graduating.