Campus feedback to help decide next provost

The search for a new provost began in July 2016 and will conclude this month after finalists are interviewed.

Dennis Hedge, Jeffrey Thompson and Ian Davison are the three finalists for the positions. Each candidate will visit campus and undergo two days of interviews from faculty, staff and students. Interviews will be between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14.

During these interview days, President Barry Dunn, who ultimately selects the next provost, believes the candidate’s “intangible qualities” will be what separates them from each other.

“This next week as we interview the three candidates, we’re looking for communication skills – we know they have these other qualifications – so we’re looking for an ability to lead with these unique aspects of their background to lead the academic program at this university, and that comes across from how passionate they are about their responses,” Dunn said.

While the provost’s role on campus deals more with faculty and institutional decisions, the position’s involvement with academic affairs directly impacts students through choices on curriculum changes and academic hiring processes, according to Michael Adelaine, vice president of Technology and Safety and chair of the provost search committee.

Despite the provost mostly working with faculty, Students’ Association President and provost search committee member Allyson Helms believes this decision will still have a major impact on students.

“From a student perspective the provost is second in command. They’re the main advocate for faculty on campus and students don’t necessarily see the impact … [but] hopefully we will have a provost who’s ready to listen and interact with student feedback,” Helms said. “It’s important to have some input to those candidates.”

Current interim Provost Hedge took on his role when Laurie Nichols switched her role as provost at SDSU to accept her current position as the president of the University of Wyoming last spring.

Since then, a search committee has worked to find a provost that fits SDSU’s current and growing needs. This committee started with an outsourced search committee, Parker Executive Search, where candidates from different ends of the globe were pooled together.

The application search ended in December and began the narrowing down of the candidate pool. According to Helms, this search has not been quick.

“We had a very wide and diverse candidate pool to begin with … we had to eliminate about 85 percent [of candidates] to get to semifinalists and even more to get to where we are now,” Helms said.

However, now that the search committee has narrowed it down to three finalists, Adelaine said it is now time for the SDSU community to help weigh in on the final selection for provost.

“It is an excellent opportunity to be actively involved in campus operations. If a student doesn’t get involved, then they have no other avenue for input on important hiring decisions,” Adelaine said. “Those who attend the in-person interviews will be able to ask questions and hear answers directly from the candidates.”

Dunn also feels that student input on the provost will be key in a final decision.

“The voice of the student is incredibly important to me, and they will have an enormous impact going forward into this next decade for the students in the future,” Dunn said.

Student interview panels are open to all students. Hedge’s interview was Tuesday Feb. 7, Thompson’s interview is Feb. 8 and Davison’s interview is scheduled for Feb. 13. Each will be between 5:15 and 6 p.m.

Dunn said that as students and faculty attend finalist interview panels, SDSU is not just looking for a candidate with the right qualifications, but one that “fits” with the school, what it stands for and what it hopes to be in the future.

“We’re looking for fit – is this the sort of person faculty can connect with and work with well? …” Dunn said. “We’ve already determined they’re qualified in their fields and now we’re looking for some of those intangible things.”

Throughout the course of the finalist interviews, Dunn believes it will naturally become clear who the next provost should be.

“It’s amazing. Having done this as a dean of Agriculture [and Biological Sciences],” Dunn said. “I’ve hired many people and it kind of sorts itself out, a leading candidate emerges that people rally for.”

 

 Meet the Candidates:

Dennis Hedge
• Student interview: Feb. 7
• Current position: Interim provost and vice president
for Academic Affairs at SDSU since 2016
Jeffrey Thompson
• Student interview: Feb. 8
• Current position: Dean of College of Science at
Nevada, Reno since 2008
Ian Davison
• Student interview: Feb. 13
• Current position: Dean of the College of Science and
Engineering at Central Michigan University since 2008

Students and faculty can access live videos of the interviews through their MyState or InsideState accounts. An online survey will be attached to give feedback on the candidates.