In recent years, February in Columbia has meant bouts of arctic cold and wind-whipped snow. But in Tallahassee, Florida, February typically is sunny and balmy with some days clipping 80 degrees.
Never mind all that. Provost Garnett Stokes is already comfortable in central Missouri, though she has been shopping for warmer winter clothing.
Stokes, the former provost at Florida State University, started as MU’s provost and executive vice chancellor Feb. 2. During a Feb. 25 news conference in the General Services Building, Stokes responded to questions on Title IX, MU’s status in the Association of American Universities (AAU), her approach to the provost role, the programs she led at Florida State and her adjustment to frosty Columbia.
Stokes was excited about the hiring of civil rights lawyer Ellen Eardley as assistant vice provost and Title IX administrator (Eardley starts April 20.) “It will enable us to expand what we are doing related to Title IX,” she said.
She supports the administration’s current efforts to raise MU’s level of teaching and research. “We want to recruit and retain the very best faculty,” Stokes said.
In 2012, when Stokes was Florida State’s provost, she launched the Extraordinary Accomplishments Program, which rewards high-achieving faculty with permanent salary increases. Asked if she might develop a similar program at MU, Stokes said it was “worth exploring.”
A priority, she said, is raising the profile of MU within the AAU. When pressed for areas that need improvement, she said she wants to “get to know the campus and form my own conclusions.”
In his inauguration address Sept. 18, 2014, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced creation of “Looking Forward to 200,” a steering committee of administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees who are envisioning what MU should be on its 200th birthday in 2039. A report is expected this semester. Since arriving last month, Stokes has been part of the discussion.
“We have a great university,” she said. “How do we become better?” The University of Missouri is “always looking to get better.”
Joining Stokes in Columbia is her husband, Jeffrey Younggren, a practicing forensic and clinical psychologist.