Search for provost coming to a close

The search committee for UAA’s new provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs is coming to a close. In Dec. 2014 the former Provost Elisha R “Bear” Baker, IV retired. Even before his official retirement date the search for a new provost began. On Sept. 16, 2014 Chancellor Tom Case announced his selection for the search committee. The committee has since then narrowed down their selection to four candidates.

The Dean of College of Business and Public Policy, Rashmi Prasad, chaired the search committee for provost. He was joined by many other prominent faculty and staff from the university who represented the different colleges and departments.  Stacey Lucason, USUAA student body president, also had a place in the committee to represent the UAA students. The committee also worked alongside a consultant, Tom Fitch, from the organization Academic Search, Inc. to bring in candidates and advertise the position. The same company will be used in the UA president search.

The first candidate for provost, Murray Nabors, whose currently the dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Missouri Western State University, visited UAA on Jan. 29 and 30. The next candidates, who have yet to be announced, will be visiting in the following weeks. Candidate number 2 will be visiting Feb. 5 and 6. Candidate number 3 will be at UAA Feb. 12 and 13. The last candidate will be visiting Feb. 16 and 17. According to Prasad each of them is from out of state and there are both male and female candidates.

“All of them have a lot of administrative experience, so there’s nobody who isn’t a seasoned administrator. Almost everyone has been a dean for multiple years. We value experience as a dean or provost a great deal. So most of them have held positions like that or have at least been at the vice president level of their university… and have strong track records of innovation and success,” Prasad said.

Prasad said that the search committee is looking for a provost who is a strong, capable, resilient leader with experience in management as well as an extensive knowledge of higher education. They would also like a provost who appreciates and embodies UAA values. The committee wants someone with a good track record.

As far as specific goals the committee wants a future provost to have, Prasad said, “Develop and refine a vision for UAA. UAA at this point of transition needs to clarify the vision of what kind of university does it want to be in the long term. So that while we’re dealing with a difficult environment, while we’re dealing with cuts and challenges, we deal with them with a horizon or a north star as it were, a guiding star.”

Within the committee Faculty Senate President, Diane Hirshberg pushed qualities and attributes that faculty wanted to see in a new provost. The faculty senate executive board brainstormed those qualities during the initial stages of the search.

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“We were very concerned that we have someone who is a strong proponent of shared governance, a collaborative, but also strong leader and someone committed to UAA… We of course want those basic things that a provost should have… We also want a provost who will embrace our very inclusive model of decision making,” said Hirshberg.

Hirshberg also said, that it’s important for the new provost to look at what UAA does well and developing those things more, “When you take a step back and look at the changes that have happened over the past ten years here, it’s really exciting, and we want someone who can take on the challenges of a difficult financial climate and contentious governance issues and identify the opportunities for strengthening what we do. That’s really important – faculty want to be optimistic and we need leadership who can guide us in that direction.”

Despite the numerous parties that hold stakes in who is chosen, the ultimate decision for provost comes down to Chancellor Tom Case. After the candidates visit the search committee will provide Chancellor Case with the pros and cons of each applicant and the input from the community. He will then be responsible for the final selection of provost. No official date for the announcement has been set, but will likely come towards the end of February.