The University of North Georgia provost search committee released the names of five potential provost candidates last week, all of whom provide different strengths and experiences, moving the committee into the final stages of the process.
The five finalists are Richard Oates, the interim provost & senior vice president for academic affairs at UNG; Jerry Hale, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston; Parviz Ansari, the vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville; Tom Ormond, the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Darton State College and senior associate provost for academic affairs and director of graduate programs at Georgia College and State University; and Dr Guiyou Huang, the senior vice president for academic affairs and the dean of the faculty of Norwich University, according to the list released last week by the search committee.
However, Huang removed his name from the list of nominees because he took a different position, said Mark Spraker, physics professor and chair of the provost search committee.
Despite Huang’s withdrawal, the committee still has a wide variety of skilled candidates to choose from.
Oates said he had the experience at the university as interim provost and knowledge about its goals and strategic plan to make a smooth transition to a new academic leadership position. He also has almost 19 years of administrative experience, he added.
Oates is familiar with the university’s history, but said he would honor traditions without preventing growth and progress.
“Status quo is not an option. I enjoy meeting with alumni who come back to visit us and they tell me the university isn’t the same as when they were her. My response is always ‘thank you’,” Oates said. “If the university was the same as it was years ago, then we are not doing our job.”
One big challenge for a provost is being present on all five UNG campuses, Oates said. But he looks forward to talking with faculty, staff, and students about making the university a better place for everyone involved, he said. The university should also try to develop positive relationships with the rest of the town, he added.
Hale talked about his experiences and ideas at meetings with faculty, staff and students on March 1.
Hale has 15 years worth of administrative experience, and was previously the department head of speech communication at University of Georgia, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus and dean of School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston.
UNG is similar to Hale’s previous colleges because they have similar mission statements, but the five-campus atmosphere makes UNG different, Hale said. As a provost, he would try to be present on all five campuses and encourage open and honest communications between them, he said during his talk.
Hale said the mission statement of UNG lined up “nearly perfectly” to his own philosophy. He cares about making education broadly available and preparing students for the globalized world, Hale said. He wants his legacy to include respecting traditions, yet building campus unity, implementing successful advising for students and helping to keep college affordable as possible, he said. He would also work with faculty and staff to solve some of UNG’s problems, including a lack of classroom space, he said.
“I have tremendous respect for the University System of Georgia and what it’s done for students,” Hale said. “It’s a unique opportunity to do something that serves students in the state of Georgia and beyond.”
Hale said he would respect traditions, but try to promote healthy growth and communications between UNG’s five campuses and the town and gown. Like Oates, he noted the importance of campus unity and positive relationships with the community.
Ansari met with students, staff and faculty on March 2.
The responsibilities and concepts of the provost job at UNG are similar to ones at Ansari’s previous universities, he said. He did not explain in detail how UNG is different. However, he was attracted to UNG because of how highly respected it is within the region, he said.
Ansari emphasized academic excellence and student success as parts of his education philosophy. How to prepare students for the future is the main question universities must answer, Ansari said. He would respect the needs and opinions of students as well as faculty, he said.
As for traditions, the university should maintain them and “use them as leverage” in advertising to newcomers, Ansari said.
Like Hale, Ansari emphasized the importance of openness, good will and communication in developing positive relationships between UNG and the surrounding towns. He had been in situations where the town was more hostile towards the college, but communication helped to solve the issues, he said. Ansari firmly believes colleges help business thrive.
Ormond spoke with faculty, staff and students on March 4.
Ormond’s experience at Darton State College, which is undergoing consolidation with Albany State College, have made him familiar with the challenges of consolidation, he said. Consolidation looks good on paper, but challenges come with it, he said.
Ormond said UNG is “an institution that is prime for success.” He likes that the university is a liberal arts school, and also mentioned that UNG has political support, which he said is a good thing about the university.
Improving and growing graduate programs and taking measures to improve student success are ideas Ormond wants to implement, he said. He also mentioned the importance of expanding diversity of both students and faculty.
Ormond described the university’s traditions as “beautiful” and “wonderful.”
“Traditions cannot be created; they just grow, and it’s remarkable that so many students have such respect for the many traditions,” Ormond said. “Not all universities have students who have that respect.”
A total of 108 candidates had applied, and the entire search committee worked together to review and rate the applicants and to narrow the list of 108 candidates to 12 semifinalist candidates, Spraker said. The process took about a month, and through interviews conducted via Skype, the committee narrowed down the 12 potential candidates to the five final candidates, Spraker said.
The search committee, which is comprised of UNG faculty, staff and students, debated and decided on criteria for the provost candidates during several meetings at the end of the fall semester.
“The committee chose the candidates that it believed were the best fit for UNG after thoroughly reviewing the applicants qualifications and interview responses,” Spraker said.
He added that although a few disagreements had arisen among committee members, they had “done a wonderful job resolving them.” He did not give details about what the disagreements were.
The committee will continue to narrow down the candidate list to three people by April, and President Bonita Jacobs will make the final decision. The new provost will begin the job July 1, Spraker said.