Search for new Provost narrowing

Since this last summer the committee in charge of finding a new academic provost has been busy narrowing the search from a pool of 80 candidates. The search committee is made up of 15 people, including professors, faculty members, two students and two members of the Board of Trustees, making it a campus-wide committee. The committee was also aided in the search by a consulting firm called Academic Search, which helps colleges and universities seek out potential candidates for presidents and provosts. From the 80 candidates who were originally considered for this administrative position, only nine were interviewed off campus by committee members, and now only three finalists for the position remain. Last week two of these finalists were on campus visiting with various groups of people, including students, faculty, the Dean’s Office and the staff members who will be working directly with the provost. According to Professor of Religion Darrell Jodock, these finalists have a very busy schedule when they visit campus. In addition to multiple meetings, the finalists hold open forums for professors and the student body to attend in order to help assess their personal qualities that will potentially make them a valuable member of the Gustavus community.

The academic provost is an extremely important administrative position in which certain responsibilities are expected, including serving as the institution’s chief academic officer and administrator-in-charge whenever the president is absent or unable to fulfill his duties. The provost is also required to serve as a senior member of the president’s cabinet and to work with the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Personnel Committee and the College Budget Committee. The provost also oversees several academic support offices and represents the academic program at Gustavus to both internal and external constituencies. The main objective of the provost’s position is to advance the college’s goals and objectives through collaboration with multiple networks and committees, both on and off campus. This is an especially important position in continuing to implement Commission Gustavus 150, which is a strategic plan that was put into action last year after two years of intense planning for Gustavus’s future as an academic institution.

Jodock said that the consulting firm helped the committee develop a prospectus, or list of qualities that the members should look for in a candidate. Among these “desired attributes for the next provost and dean of the college” are: “a student of higher education, knowledgeable about key issues affecting liberal arts colleges nationally, including curricular innovation; faculty hiring, tenure and promotion; intercultural competence; student development theory; enrollment management; environmental sustainability; and technology.” This is just a few of the specific qualities listed that the committee members are looking for in the candidates.

After all of the information on each of the final candidates has been compiled by committee members, President Ohle will have the final say on which of the three candidates would be best suited for this position based on input from the committee, as well as student assessments from the open forum. According to Jodock, there is not yet a specific time in which the President must make his final decision. However, the committee will have all of their information on the candidates compiled by early next week. More information on each of the candidates and the search process can be found on the Gustavus website.

Dr. Barbara Morris

Morris holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in political science, both being from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Morris has served the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Redlands since 1996, first as an assistant professor of government, then as chair of the department. She became an Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and eventually an Interim Dean of the college before taking on the full time position in 2007.

Dr. Mark Braun

Braun holds a doctorate in speech-communication from the University of Minnesota and a master’s in speech-communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He currently serves as senior vice president for academic affairs and Dean of Augustana College. Braun formerly served Gustavus for 17 years, first as professor and chair of communication studies, then as an Associate Dean beginning in 1999.

Dr. Cheryl Contant

Contant earned her doctorate in civil engineering and master’s in environmental engineering, both from Stanford University. She is currently the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She has worked as a professor and director of the city and regional planning program at the College of Architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology. Contant also served at Macalester College during the 2006-2007 academic year.