Students, Faculty meet the First Provost Candidate

Dr.+Timothy+Crowley%2C+candidate+for+the+Eastern+provost+position+met+with+faculty+and+staff+in+the+Tuscola+Arcola+room+of+the+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+Union+Thursday+afternoon.+Students+had+the+opportunity+to+introduce+themselves+and+ask+questions+about+Crowley%E2%80%99s+plans+for+the+university.

Justin Brown

Dr. Timothy Crowley, candidate for the Eastern provost position met with faculty and staff in the Tuscola Arcola room of the Martin Luther King Jr. Union Thursday afternoon. Students had the opportunity to introduce themselves and ask questions about Crowley’s plans for the university.

Chrissy Miller, Administration Reporter

 

Students and faculty alike met the first candidate for Eastern provost, Tim Crowley, at the student and faculty forums.

While less than five students came to the student forum, many faculty attended the faculty forum to ask Crowley questions.

Crowley would replace the current provost, Blair Lord, who plans to retire in the summer. Crowley has been working in higher-level education for 21 years, with 17 of them being part of the administration.

“I got into administration really to improve conditions for students,” Crowley said.

Crowley spent his childhood in Springfield, Illinois and decided he wanted to become a provost three years ago. Last year, Crowley decided to go through a training program called the “Becoming a Provost Academy,” a program hosted by the Association of State Colleges and Universities that helps prepare people for handling provost duties.

“I look at what is happening here at Eastern as the trough of an institutional life cycle,” Crowley said. “We’ve hit the low point and now is an opportunity to join an organization that is going to be on its way back up.”

Crowley said his youngest child is graduating from high school this year, so it seems like the perfect time to relocate.

“Eastern is a school with a phenomenal tradition and history and solid fundamentals going for it,” Crowley said. “So this was really a great opportunity to throw my hat in the ring and try to go for the opportunity to lead.”

Crowley said he has helped in growth processes like this at Fort Hays State University by helping to implement a program that allowed students to take remedial courses at the same time as credit-bearing courses.

Crowley said this is part of a much bigger movement by universities called “Reimagining the First Year.” This initiative aims to develop standards of care for freshmen.

“When you go to a hospital or doctor’s office, there’s standards of care for patients and how they will be treated,” Crowley said. “We’re trying to do that for higher education, for freshman or first-year students as they come into our institution.”

Jack Cruikshank, a political science graduate student, questioned Crowley about where he drew the line on shared governance when operating in a university setting.

“Say we have a public meeting to discuss program elimination, should that be public? Should we be talking about that in the newspaper? Where is the line for that, is the question,” Cruikshank said. “This is a question you’ll have to answer if you come here.”

Cruikshank said this issue has come up repeatedly in the last few years. He also said while there are laws about open meetings in Illinois, he is uncertain if meetings like the example he gave fall under their jurisdiction.

“We follow them sometimes,” Cruikshank said.

Crowley said following open meeting laws was important to him.

“I’m for as much transparency in the process as possible,” Crowley said. “Even if the conversations are difficult, conversations need to occur.”

Some conversations Crowley said he would like to further at Eastern would be about offering online degrees, doing more effective marketing and expanding dual credit opportunities.

English professor Terri Fredrick said she was concerned about the effect cost-saving methods, such as larger class sizes and having professors teach more classes, would have on maintaining a productive balance between faculty research and teaching courses.

“While the incentive programs may still be out there, they’re relatively low compared to the number of people we have,” Fredrick said.

Crowley said innovation and hustle need to be part of the strategic plan to succeed. He said he believes the provost’s job is to create the conditions for success.

“It’s amazing how institutions will sort of institutionalize their curriculum and never really ask questions about why do we do it this way,” Crowley said. “Until faculty members are willing to have those conversations — and they have to be frank conversations — then change never happens.”

Crowley said for him, when dealing with conflict, face-to-face communication is vital.

“I’ve always tried to have a meeting to try to work it out,” Crowley said. “Less talk, more listen is generally what I like to do.”

 

Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]