Provost search consultant speaks with search committee

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

A search consultant from Witt/Kieffer, the external search firm contracted for finding a new provost/vice president for academic affairs, asked members from the Council on Academic Affairs and the Faculty Senate for their input Thursday.

Sheila Murphy, the Witt/Kieffer consultant, called the meeting an “open data collection” session that would help her pinpoint what to look for in a prospective candidate for provost.

Murphy asked the faculty what they considered the most important role for a provost, what qualities and attributes the individual should have, and what they thought is the biggest challenges the new provost would face.

“I want to be sure that our strategy to recruit and identify people and invite them to candidacy is as point on as possible,” Murphy said. “So the more deeply (the firm) understands the institution, the better we are at thinking about all these people we potentially have access to who we want to reach out for you.”

Faculty Senator Grant Sterling said for years, the university has had a person with the title “provost,” but at Eastern they do not function like provosts would at other universities.

“At other universities, provosts are often second-in-command next to the president, with sort of authority over campus as a whole, but at Eastern the provost has always been treated as just another vice president,” Sterling said.

Sterling said it seems like the provost has no authority over anything that happens in student affairs or business affairs, and if a department does not report directly to the provost, then they do not have the authority to supervise it.

“I think the university has to decide whether we’re hiring a provost or not, or are we just hiring a vice president for academic affairs,” Sterling said. “That’s fine. If that’s what we’re doing, then say what we’re doing. Somebody has to decide what we are looking for.”

Sterling said he wants faculty to have the feeling that the provost is someone who will fight for what the faculty wants.

CAA member Misty Rhodes said the university needs someone who will be present and not fade into the background.

She said Eastern President David Glassman is present, and when students talk about him they think that he speaks for them.

Rhodes said the new provost should be someone who is a leading figurehead on campus and in the community.

“When you say provost and EIU, people should know their name and their face and what they stand for,” Rhodes said.

Murphy segued the discussion to enrollment as a potential challenge and said the information she received so far suggests that enrollment decline is significant and this year has been tough.

“How will people in the roles you have understand that?” Murphy asked. “What is going on? Obviously the state issue, and other state institutions have not been negatively impacted to the same degree.”

CAA member Debra Reid said Eastern is 50 miles from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and they have open enrollment and a quest to be 50,000 strong. She added that Eastern is 100 miles away from Illinois State University, which seems to have the same agenda.

“We appeal to students who are not just rural Americans, but they tend to be local-orientated toward their place so they don’t want to go very far,” Reid said. “We have the unique ability to have a diverse student body in many ways, not just rural, but we have urban, ethnic diversity, cultural diversity.”

Reid said these local bigger universities are “zapping” some of Eastern’s energy.

Murphy asked if competitors were as aggressive in encroaching on Eastern’s market area during a time when the enrollment was more robust.

Reid said she is not sure when public universities gave up on their enrollment limits because it used to be that they had limited numbers on admissions. However, she said it is not that way anymore.

The search committee for the provost/VPAA position has been formed and has already begun their work with the external search firm.

According to an email from Glassman, a webpage is being developed that will provide updated information on the progress of the search.

The individuals on the committee and the areas they represent are Douglas Klarup, interim dean of the College of Sciences in the academic leadership team; Thomas MacMullen, an Informational Technology technical associate; Rhoads from the CAA; Melody Wollan, associate chair of the business department from the Council of Chairs; history professor Edmund Wehrle from the Council on Graduate Studies; education professor Jeanne Okrasinski from the Council on Teacher Education; music professor Jemmie Robertson from the Faculty Senate; Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs from the President’s Council; administrative assistant Peggy Brown from Staff Senate; Jenny Sipes, the special assistant to the vice president of student affairs from student affairs; Student Body President Catie Witt from Student Senate; and anthropology professor Don Holly as the presidential appointee and chair of the group. The one non-voting member of the group is Shawn Peoples, the interim director of the Civil Rights Office.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]