The Maneater

Provost search committee hosts public forum for undergraduate students

The search committee, consisting of 21 students, staff and faculty members, is projected to identify final candidates by May.

The search committee for MU’s next provost held a search forum Wednesday for undergraduate students to share their thoughts and ideal qualities for a potential candidate.

Tim McIntosh, UM System director of executive initiatives, and Missouri Students Association President Nathan Willett facilitated the forum at the MU Student Center, prompting students to provide their opinions on the search process and qualities of candidates.

MU has set up a search committee consisting of 21 students, deans, faculty and staff members. The committee will choose candidates, according to a statement made by Chancellor Alexander Cartwright on Dec. 20.

Willett said he was there as a student representative and that he wanted to hear from other students about how the student body perceives the role of the provost.

“I want what’s best for this campus and what’s best for the students,” Willett said.

Junior Jennifer Sutterer said she would like to see more interaction between undergraduate and graduate students because she hasn’t seen much in her time at MU. She said it could be beneficial for the university because it would direct undergraduates to MU’s graduate program, as opposed to students attending somewhere else for their degree.

Willett also said his role in MSA involves a lot of working with the provost regarding potential policy changes or introductions.

For example, in 2012, MSA worked with the president to incorporate the MU Religious Observance Policy. The policy states that “faculty is encouraged to excuse students who have a conflict with a class period, test or activity because of these obligations.”

The provost is expected to work directly with students in a variety of ways, such as traveling office hours, McIntosh said. He referenced 2014 discussion sessions held by former Provost Garnett Stokes that were open for faculty, staff and students “to talk with the provost about any topic of interest,” according to the Office of the Provost website.

Willett said he hopes to work with the next provost more directly on student issues such as course evaluations. He said last fall, he didn’t fill out evaluations because he didn’t see where his opinions would be taken and who would review them.

“I think that with the upcoming [provost], we’ll be seeing that and things like that take more priority,” Willett said.

McIntosh also explained how the search committee chooses and narrows down candidates. First, the committee hosts listening sessions, including public forums, to hear from students and staff on who they want representing and working with their campus.

From there, it’s a lot of “interrupting people’s lives,” McIntosh said. The committee will email current provosts working at other schools, as well as other people holding prominent academic positions, such as deans and chancellors, to ask if they would consider applying or know someone who might want to.

McIntosh said the university will contact between 400 and 500 people, most of which will decline the offer. About two or three dozen people will apply and the search committee will then narrow down those applications to eight to 12 people, he said.

“We need a team who will be able to take wide-angle lens on a group of candidates and be able to choose the best,” McIntosh said.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright will look at the committee’s choices and narrow that down to three or four final candidates. At this point in the search process, McIntosh said the search committee will also do what is called candidate vetting, in which they will call references and other people the candidates have worked with to gauge how they work with other people.

The final candidates will then present to MU students and staff on potential acts they would plan to carry out if hired. Cartwright and a few select others from the search committee will then decide who is hired, McIntosh said.

McIntosh said the final candidates should be announced by spring Reading Day. The person hired as provost would then be hired for the 2018-19 academic year.

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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