• debra-thatcher-slider.jpg?fit=500%2C500
    Debra Thatcher will receive the Provost Search Committee's recommendation on March 23.

What is a provost? Why are we about to have one?

in Campus Life by

The selection for a provost is underway. The first candidate of five, Daniel Findley, PhD, spoke at a forum on March 7. Four other candidates have been scheduled to speak at UCC, but due to its publication date, the Mainstream was only able to cover the first candidate.

The provost will replace the positions of vice president of Student Services and vice president of Instruction and their executive assistants. The dean of Students will assume some the current responsibilities of the vice president of Student Services.  For example, Student of Concern forms and other complaints will be directed at the dean of Students after a provost is officially hired. In short, three administrators will remain by fall 2017 in the place of four current administrative positions.

At its core, the provost requires a high level of organization and communication between numerous departments. With budgetary concerns, however, some from the UCC community have expressed concern over the increase in cost that accompanies the incoming Provost.

UCC President Debra Thatcher, PhD, clarified that the expense of a provost is outweighed by what a provost can offer in terms of social expertise and long-term budgeting. “When you report to multiple people, you tend to stay in-house,” said Thatcher. For example, without the provost, when student services staff have questions have problems, those problems tend to stay within the student services department.

Findley, one of the five candidates, had a similar take on the importance of synergy. “Having student services and academic discussions in isolation from each other creates problems,” said Findley.

Thatcher is looking for specific skills in the provost candidate.

“Being able to reach people in a number of ways, and engaging as many people as possible,” said Thatcher in regard to skills an incoming provost should possess. “Even though they are responsible for all things related to students, the provost has to communicate all sorts of matters across the campus community,” said Thatcher.

While it may seem basic, the ability of the provost to relay information through a number of avenues is vital to the efficacy of the position. “We need someone who will be able to communicate face-to-face talks with students around campus, text, email, meetings and through other methods depending on your audience. Still, not everyone will be informed,” said Thatcher. Thatcher hopes that more of the campus populace will be more informed due to the provost communicating with the community ad nauseum, not just about their own programs, but about more opportunities and resources that have gone underutilized.

While patience was not specifically mentioned by Thatcher of Findley, both implied that an effective provost should be highly patient. Above all, Thatcher wants something very basic, albeit important, from the incoming provost: “We want somebody that listens well, because it’s a matter of a lot of give and take.”

“If I ask a number of people about governance on our campus, there will be a number of responses, with some very passionate about their opinions,” said Thatcher. The need to synergize communication between student services and academics was repeatedly brought to the table by Thatcher and Findley as a governance need. Good communication and cooperation between administrators of varying offices was also emphasized as essential, even in time periods with healthy and balanced budgets.  Lack of communication or cooperation can easily lead to the misallocation of funds throughout a campus, or even an adversarial relationship between administrators, faculty, staff and students. Both also consider being patient and creative as foundational to troubleshooting budgetary concerns and student complaints and requests.

Findley gave an example of searching out help for a student in need when he worked at Portland Community College. The student had essentially stopped by Findley’s office to say that after failing the same math course four times, she thought she should let go of becoming a fitness technician.

“Time out,” Finley said.

He asked the student to give him time to organize a plan to coordinate meetings between instructors and administrators in physical education and math, the offices of financial aid and academic advising, and of course, the student. The student did her finish her math requirement and fitness technician program.

“Every student is a round character,” said Findley. Findley said this in contrast to the idea of students being “flat” or “static.” He then discussed the need for faculty, staff and administration to treat students according to their specific needs. That need to be addressed may be as easy as the right tutor, or as hard as a safe home to go to at the end of the school day.

Findley continued on to say that a student’s only interaction with any college official may be when they sit at the professors’ lectures, and he hopes to change that. While never speaking with campus administrators may sound normal to many students, both Thatcher and Findley expressed that students should work with campus administration to create a better future.

 

Campus Visits:

 Tues, March 7 – Dr. Daniel Findley

 Fri, March 10 – Dr. Daniel Koopman

 Mon, March 13 – Dr. Tammy Frankland

 Tue, March 14 – Dr. Cherilee Walker

 Mon, March 20 – Dr. Kacy Crabtree