The second forum to determine who of three finalists will be Michigan State University's next provost was held Tuesday with Antonio Tillis — dean of the college of liberal arts and social sciences at the University of Houston.
The forum was moderated by the co-chairs of the provost search committee Ron Hendrick and Beronda Montgomery. The questions asked of Tillis were compiled by the MSU community through an online survey link.
The questions asked for him were from both a list that will be asked of all finalists — including Wanda Blanchett and Teresa Woodruff — as well as questions that were specifically submitted for him.
"For over 15 years of academic leadership has provided me for the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead relative to this position at Michigan State, which is a position that is fundamentally responsible for making sure that the university continues to move the needle on state-driven and university-driven strategic performance-based metrics," Tillis said.
Tillis spoke about his experience at four other institutions, including University of Houston, College of Charleston, Dartmouth College and Purdue University. He also spoke about why he was interested in bringing his experience to MSU.
"The opportunity to work in this academic space excites me as my life as a dean has been about faculty development and success, student development and success, community engagement, fundraising for strategic initiatives, increasing the research profile of the institution by college and creating an environment that welcomes collaboration, collegiality, innovation and fosters discovery."
He spoke about different topics ranging from the university's climate and his view of accountability.
"Only when making it apart of the national discourse, or the larger discourse on campus, can students then — and faculty and staff — begin to feel safe on campus and also embrace the total ethos of what it means to live in a diverse, equitable world that is inclusive."
When it comes to potentially being a member of the MSU community, Tillis said he is excited for the potential opportunity.
"At times, there comes a wonderfully unexpected opportunity," he said. "For me, the position of executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Michigan State University, with the university's rich land grant mission, its innovative approach to discovery and its forward vision is that coveted opportunity. Thus, I believe in and will support (President Samuel L.) Stanley and the Michigan State's promise to provide affordable access to knowledge and education to all citizens of the state of Michigan, thus fulfilling the land grant mission."
The third and final candidate — Teresa Woodruff — will be visiting MSU via Zoom Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Questions can be submitted to this survey until 5 p.m. Tuesday.