From Scene Sarasota .com April 1, 2019
Shortly after his appointment to the Ohio State University board of trustees, lawyer-turned-residential-real-estate-developer George Skestos asked the provost to set up a monthly breakfast meeting with 8-10 faculty members. At first, wary professors wondered if he was a spy, Skestos says. Over coffee and bagels, they discovered he was someone far more interesting: a lifelong learner. “To be a trustee you’ve got to understand what’s going on,” says Skestos. “Otherwise you’re just sitting there at those meetings nodding your head.”
Since 2012, Skestos has brought to the board of New College of Florida (NCF) that same open mind and insatiable curiosity. Like most of his Longboat Key neighbors, Skestos didn’t know much about the highly selective public liberal arts institution across the bay. So, he did his research—by taking many New College classes.
Skestos didn’t sit in the back row for an afternoon. He signed on for the whole semester, doing assigned readings and joining discussions. “The kids are really nice,” he says. “Not way out, really freaky. I like them all. And they treat me like one of them.”
As NCF president Donal O’Shea notes, New College students tend to lean left and Skestos more to the right. “George is never shy about disagreeing,” says O’Shea, “but never in a way that makes anyone feel diminished. Here’s this very gentle man, old enough to be a great-grandfather, talking to some student with purple hair and two or three nose rings and God knows what else, and he gets along with them really well. It’s the most charming thing I’ve ever seen.”
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