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May 8, 2014 Volume 35, No. 30

Faculty, staff and students weigh in on attributes of the university’s next provost

Senate Committee student says tenured faculty aren’t always best teachers

Members of the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller took part in a public forum April 30 in which the MU community discussed the hoped-for qualities of the next provost.

The event in Monsanto Auditorium in the Bond Life Sciences Center began with a question from the firm’s president, Elizabeth Ramos: “What changes would you like to see with a new provost?”

Jack Schultz, director of the Bond Life Sciences Center, said he wants the new provost to have the ability to help break down academic boundaries. He also stressed that great communication skills should be an important characteristic of the provost, since the provost is in charge of all academic activities and policies.

Faculty members agreed that they would like to see more appreciation and recognition from the new provost.

Nancy West, director of the Honors College, said she wants the provost to be a faculty advocate who can “boost morale in disciplines.”

Members of Missouri Students Association’s Senate Committee spoke for students. Jordan Bruening said that not all professors with tenure are great teachers, and it’s a point for the new provost to consider.

“We’re paying to take that class, and somebody who isn’t a great teacher makes us feel we aren’t getting our money’s worth,” Bruening said.

Other points made were that the new provost should have a close connection with faculty, staff and students, be willing to make needed changes, and strive to increase MU’s stature as an interdisciplinary research institution.

After the search firm meets with campus constituencies, it will synthesize the forum information into a position profile.  

The profile document should offer a realistic summary of the challenges, measures of success and ideal qualifications for the position, members of the search firm said. Once the search committee has reviewed and approved this document, the firm will share it broadly with prospective candidates and key sources.

The search firm will work closely with the 15-member provost search committee, led by Judy Wall, joint Curators Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Eight faculty and a dean are on the committee. 

— JeongAn Choi