Roanoke Campus President on the Tao of Pooh and the Power of Education

Michael Traas

Michael TraasName: Michael Traas, Roanoke Campus President

Education: Master’s in Public Relations from Kent State University; Bachelor’s from Webster University in Pre-Directing.

Started at ECPI University: January 15, 2015

What did you do prior to joining ECPI University? I have been in career education for over 10 years. I started as an evening instructor in Critical Thinking and Communication, served as a Program Director and Director of Education. I have also previously served as Campus President and Director of Operations. Prior to my work in Education I was in corporate event planning, college activities, and theatre.

What is your most rewarding professional experience? Helping students become successful professionals. Education made a huge difference in my life – and in my family’s life – I know the power of it. I experienced my own challenges, and know that each student faces many of their own. Finding solutions, creating a path, and providing a better life and more opportunities for themselves and their families makes the world a better place. It’s my way of giving back, and it is extremely rewarding.

Who was your most influential teacher? There are three: in middle school, Ms. Georgia Scott was a huge influence, teaching me to be myself and helping me discover the joy of learning; in college, Ms. Reta Madsen consistently challenged me to think outside the box and to expand my scope of reference; finally, Susan Gregg, my mentor, was always there to discuss an idea/approach – she valued my input and trusted me with great responsibility – she taught me a great deal, but more importantly, put me in a position to learn from experience.

What book is most important to you? Fiction: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings got me to love reading, and helped shape many of my ideas about life. Philosophy: Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh – a wonderful read, and so many powerful and complex ideas so simply stated. Non-fiction: The collective work of Jacques Derrida on deconstruction.

If you could completely solve one problem on earth, what would it be? Greed, because I couldn’t think of an instance where it could do anything but harm, and I think it is responsible for many of the ills we face as a society and in the world. Cruelty ran a close second.

What is your favorite meal to prepare? I make a mean crepe – with pears in a delicious sauce. That’s not a meal, exactly, but I get a lot of requests. Beyond that I love grilling a steak – and I have a very good mushroom soup made with champagne and black pepper.

What is your favorite quote? “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Fortune Cookie