A week in the life

President Thomas C. Hudnut pulls the official airline guide out of the top right corner of his desk, careful not to drop the loose itineraries of past trips tucked between the pages. He pushes his rimless glasses onto his forehead and scans the book for his favorite flight to New York City.
“I tend to fly United,” he said. “I’ve been their prisoner for a long time. I’m not in an exalted enough group ever to qualify for an upgrade anymore. Now my son, the professional water polo player, is United 1K. They once held a 747 for him in Germany just so he could get on it. I mean, that’s power.”
During the school year, the president plans a trip to a major U.S. city nearly every month. He often has to deal with multiple invitations over the same dates.

On the weekend before spring break last year, Hudnut had three trip offers.
“I had a meeting of the G20 group, the so-called 20 best schools in the English speaking world,” he said, which was in London.

“I was also invited on an all-expense paid trip to go peacock bass fishing in the Amazon, which I would have killed to do. And the third thing was the School Year Abroad board meeting which met at the Beijing campus last March.”

He attended the G20 meeting, to which he had said yes initially.

Hudnut arrives at his Hilton Hotel in New York City on a Monday. Matt Hart (Meghan ’04, Shannon ’07) is president and chief operating officer of Hilton Hotels Corporation. Hudnut began staying at Hiltons after meeting Hart.

“I like to support my friends,” he said.

His three-day trip was scheduled around meetings with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation board, networking with college administrators and fundraising opportunities. He also managed to fit in his college roommate’s 60th birthday party, dinner, Helen Mirren’s “The Queen” with his daughter and two meals with retired art teacher Carl Wilson. Wilson’s retirement trip to New York was a gift from the school.

The last day of the trip, Friday, began when his alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m.

Hudnut took a car to John F. Kennedy airport, where he boarded the 7:11 a.m. flight to LAX. He didn’t watch the in-flight movie, taking the next few hours to read, write and sleep.

“I think clearly on the plane, you know?” he said. “There are no phones, no interruptions.”

Hudnut arrived at the office by 11 a.m., worked the rest of the day and headed over to Valley College for the varsity football game.

After cheering the Wolverines to another win, he was in bed by 11:30 p.m. after being awake almost 22 hours.