Faculty forum looks at provost criteria
Faculty weighed in on what qualities the next MSU provost should have at an open forum on Tuesday, saying that the provost should have strong ties to the university while balancing diversity and inclusion.
About 30 faculty members attended the first of two forums and gave suggestions including sensitivity to the role of the arts and humanities at the university.
“Because the provost is the chief academic officer of the university, it’s important that faculty have a voice and be able to chime in about the needs and desires that we have for our next provost,” said Sue Carter, Steering Committee chair and journalism professor.
Provost search committee chair Mary Mundt, dean of the College of Nursing, presided over the meeting and answered faculty questions.
Debra Nails, a philosophy professor, said she wants to find someone who will stay at MSU for a longer period of time than has been the norm. Nails added that many administrators stay at MSU for about five years and then go on to other things.
“Their vision gets in the way of our teaching and research,” she said. “I hope we’re seeking people that might have a connection to MSU, people that have already done a great job at the university and have some desire to come back.”
She added she was disappointed the provost job posting doesn’t say anything about scholarship, research or publication. Mundt responded that anyone can nominate a candidate.
“The provost needs to work effectively with the student groups because students understand what is needed to create an inclusive community where they can develop and thrive,” said Lee June, a professor in the Honors College.
He also advocated for a provost who understands arts and humanities and evolving disciplines like ethnic studies, as well as someone with a track record of inclusion and diversity.
Jualynne Dodson, a sociology professor, echoed June’s concerns.
“If we aren’t careful, we will end up with an administrator that does not get academics,” Dodson said.
Robert Maleczka, chairperson of the Department of Chemistry, said he’d like faculty to have input on interview questions.
Terry Curry, associate provost and vice president for academic human resources, said there is a Desire2Learn page that faculty can post suggestions on recruiting, nominations and anything else they want in relation to the search. It will be reviewed by the search committee.
Ann Austin, an education professor, wants the new provost to be in tune with the challenges that are facing higher education, such as technology; the ages, interests and circumstances of students; the job market and how universities should contribute to democracy.
Mundt said she’s taking all the testimony into account and not making any judgments at this time.
“The purpose of the forum is to have all the different perspectives represented and to have people speak their minds, whatever perspective they have and to listen,” Mundt said.
She said the plan is to bring candidates to campus for interviews in January 2014. From there, the committee will recommend a candidate to MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, who will recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees.