Students get involved in Provost search


Melissa Nuñez – General Assignment Reporter

It is vital for students to participate in administrative decisions such as the provost search if they want to ensure their academic excellence, said Shawn Copeland, senior and marketing.

“The student opinion regarding any administrative level person is super important because this is the kind of person who can affect their life and the education that they are getting,” said Copeland. “Students are paying to be led by people, they want a quality education, so this is how you are going to get it.”

Copeland said he came to the Provost Open Forum to provide feedback on what kind of academic leader he would like to see, as well as suggest how the next provost can become more engaged on campus.

“My hope is we are able to find a candidate that is going to be good for the job,” said Copeland, “as well as have a desire to get involved outside of just the job and want to go to campus events and athletic events so they have a more defined presence amongst students.”

Craig Hlavac, Ed.D., chairperson for the music department and chair of the provost search committee, said the Provost Open Forum was held in an effort for the search committee to gain students’ perspectives on what qualities they would like to see in the next provost.

“The provost is really going to set the stage for the direction and the vision for the academic side of the university,” said Hlavac. “We are all here for the students, so we want to make sure that we give a chance for the students to provide feedback on what they would like to see in our next academic leader.”

Hlavac said the provost oversees all of the academic deans, several of the academic support offices, some of the faculty support offices, as well as research offices. The provost is also expected to collaborate well with other leaders at the university and will be a central figure in the president’s cabinet.

Kalie Menders, junior and communications disorders, said that the university’s next provost should ensure that Southern remains a university of access as well as capitalizes and expands degree programs.

“I’m concerned about Southern remaining a university of access, a place that is really accessible for a lot of students of various backgrounds,” said Menders. “I think that Southern has a lot of opportunity to develop new programs. Develop a stronger post graduate program, doctoral programs and things of that nature. That would really help establish it as a high quality, prestigious university.”

Menders said students should become involved in the provost search because they understand themselves and the university in a unique way that administrators do not.

“I think that students are the best people. Students understand the university more than a lot of other people do,” said Menders. “I think it is easy for administrators, faculty, and staff to assume what is going on with students and assume that they know what students are thinking, but there is nothing more important than students actually coming out and sharing what students are actually thinking and feeling because that is the only thing that the administration will know and understand and be able to support the needs of students.”

Hlavac said the provost search committee encourages students to voice any concerns they may have regarding the provost search. Students can email him or visit Southern’s website to submit anonymous feedback. There will also be future student open forum dates between April 29 and May 4, where students will be able to interact with provost candidates directly.

Photo Credit: Melissa Nuñez – General Assignment Reporter

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