Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Nov. 13, 2014 Volume 36, No. 12

Provost candidate talks about collaboration and empowering faculty

Alternate text

At an open forum in Memorial Union, provost candidate Nancy Brickhouse said she strives to keep faculty involved in administrative discussions. Photo by Rob Hill.

Nancy Brickhouse is deputy provost at the University of Delaware

At an open forum Nov. 5, provost candidate Nancy Brickhouse addressed questions on leadership, direction, collaboration and retaining top faculty.

Asked about her leadership philosophy, Brickhouse said there needs to be “commonly shared goals” and everyone needs to “buy into the vision.” Rather than micromanage, she strives to “empower people” by giving them the “freedom to grow in their area.”

She supports shared governance by keeping faculty involved in administrative discussions. “You bring them in early, keeping them in the loop, keeping the lines of communication clear so that no one is ever surprised,” Brickhouse said. “Shared governance is important because change is not possible without it.”

Like candidates Michele Wheatly and John Wiencek, Brickhouse comes from a science background. She holds a master’s in chemistry and a doctorate in science education from Purdue University. Before attending Purdue, she was a high school science teacher in Texas.

She has spent her academic career at the University of Delaware, a public land-grant institution. A tenured associate professor by 1994, Brickhouse went on to become dean of the School of Education and then deputy dean of the College of Education and Human Development. In 2011 she was named deputy provost, a role she returned to in August 2013 after serving as interim provost for 15 months.

Brickhouse supports efforts to raise MU’s ranking in the Association of American Universities (AAU). Though the association’s metrics favor the sciences, she said all units benefit from the prestige of being in the association. She expects to see more interdisciplinary work among the sciences and the humanities and social sciences as academic research is “pushed to be more relevant to the world.” This might be a way for non-STEM disciplines to receive greater AAU recognition, Brickhouse said.

She represented herself as someone who embraces change and creative thinking. Delaware, for example, redesigned much of the science curriculum to keep pace with best learning practices. The curriculum focused on “gateway courses, not gatekeeping courses,” she said.

As for adaptability in changing circumstances, Brickhouse talked about Delaware’s failed pursuit of a star professor to fill an endowed chair in the hard sciences. Brickhouse led the effort to instead use the $3 million endowment to create three chair positions in economics, history and chemistry for high-achieving midcareer faculty. This solved a faculty issue that Brickhouse did not elaborate on but appeared to be related to retaining faculty who are rising stars.

As for the future of higher learning, Brickhouse said institutions need to constantly evaluate if they are properly preparing students for a changing world. Institutions that don’t will be left behind. “We have to keep up our game,” she said. “There is a lot of competition out there.”

If you attended Nancy Brickhouse's open forum on Nov. 5, and did not already fill out an evaluation, please provide your feedback at the following link. The link closes at 5 p.m. Friday.