Search for new provost suspended

Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

President Mary Papazian announced the search for the next provost was suspended. Papazian said the search was deferred because she is leaving for another position in California and since the provost works very closely with the president, it will give a chance to whoever is appointed to find a provost more suited for them.

“You want a new president to feel comfortable with the provost. If we were going to hire a new provost before the president came in, you do not know how that relationship is going to go,” said Papazian. “This way ensures there is a smooth transition all along and will maintain the greatest degree of stability on campus. I think students can feel very confident in the leadership here.”

Papazian said the search postponement was possible because acting provost Ellen Durnin, former dean of the school of business, has agreed to stay on for another year.

Papazian added, over the past couple of years the university has developed an operational plan to ensure the university’s positive momentum and she is confident Southern’s new leadership will adhere to it.  

“The university has come together over last two years to develop a strategic plan, ‘Discover Southern, A University for the 21st Century.’ That was the collective work of the entire campus and ultimately is going to be the guiding factor for going forward,” said Papazian. “That is where we are as an institution, it is the collective vision of the entire campus. Anybody who comes, if they are going to be a fit for this campus, would embrace the vision of the campus as whole.”

Craig Hlavac, Ed.D., former chair of the provost search committee and chairperson for the music department, said Papazian’s suspension of the search was the best solution for Southern’s transitional period.

“The provost and the president work together collaboratively,” said Hlavac, “it is in the best interest of the university to make sure that the new president and the new provost engage and work well together.”

Hlavac added student input is important when considering candidates for administrative positions such as the provost, but he is unsure as to what extent student involvement will consist of in the future search.

“In terms of student input, I cannot speak to it specifically. If I am chair, absolutely there will be open forums again. But if I am not, I do not know how that search committee will decide to move forward,” said Hlavac. “I would guess student input is very important in every search, so I am confident whomever is guiding the search will include students.”

Hlavac said after the board of regents selects a new president, at some point soon afterward the president will commence another search for a new provost. While Hlavac hopes he can be a part of the search again, the makeup of another search committee will be up to the new president.

Nick Charnysh, vice president of student government and junior recreation and leisure studies major, said he thinks it is crucial to find a new president before a provost to ensure more consistency in Southern’s administrative office.

Charnysh added that Southern’s shift in leadership may seem daunting, but should bring exciting opportunities for students as well as the university.

“I am excited for the president’s search, although it is sad that Papazian is leaving, I am excited for what she has done for our university, and I am excited that it is a transitional period for Southern,” said Charnysh. “Although it might be scary, we will have new leadership, so students will have the chance to put forward their opinions to move this university forward even more than it has in the last couple of years.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo

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