A Provost at Seattle University is involved with academic and student affairs acting as the bridge between faculty and students to administration. Since March 2016, Seattle U’s community along with consulting company Issacson, Miller have been engaged in the hunt for a new Provost.
Since the search began, Vice President for University Planning and Vice Provost Robert Dullea has been serving as Interim Provost. Although two finalists were decided upon earlier in the year, President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J. decided not to offer the position of Provost to either of the candidates. In April 2017, the Provost Search restarted and has now narrowed down to four finalists, two of which have spoken in the open forums held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.
Shane Martin, who spoke on Oct. 31, is currently the Dean of Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) School of Education and the Dean of Graduate Studies. He is also a state commissioner to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and a founding member of Deans for Impact, currently serving on their Executive Committee.
“I come to you as someone who stands on the outside of your institution and I’m looking in, so in no way do I come to present a vision for Seattle University,” Martin said. “I think that wouldn’t be quite right at this point. What I have gathered are some reflections and some opportunities, some that I think that are perhaps unique to Seattle University and others that I think are challenges and opportunity that I see in higher education.”
The second finalist is Tom Stritikus who spoke on Nov. 2. Currently Stritikus is currently the Deputy Director of Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also serving on the Global Learning Initiative to build strategies to improve education in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to his current position, Stritikus was the dean of the University of Washington (UW) College of Education.
“What I can commit to is just a real willingness to listen and to be pushed,” Stritikus told the audience. “I do have strong opinions, but I am also someone who fully understands that listening is not the art of thinking what you are going to say next. I get that, and I am really willing to roll my sleeves up and listen.”
In the open forums, both finalists shared their approach to tenure for adjunct faculty, cutting programs, shared governance and faculty research, as well as touching on student loans and tuition options.
With regard to tenure, Martin drew back from his experience at LMU, saying that tenure looks different in both schools. He believes that it’s about finding balance between academic freedom and faculty accountability. He wants to look at program quality, data and the feedback loop before making a decision.
In a similar vein, Stritikus responded to a question on adjunct unionization. He recognized that this is one of the most important questions, and he said he doesn’t know enough on this topic to speak specifically. He said that he does believe in unions and that no matter what form that group comes to the provost, it is the provost’s obligation to work with the faculty.
On the topic of tuition as sustainable source of revenue, as opposed to endowment-driven universities like University of Washington, Martin said that institutions simply can’t do business as usual and that the old model of increasing tuition is no longer sustainable. Instead, he believes the university needs to look for efficient revenue strains while keeping the context of a Jesuit institution and our mission in mind.
Stritikus had a different approach, saying that it’s important to allocate funds more strategically. He believes that if institutions are deliberate about their spending, they can better navigate budget restrictions.
After talking with Stritikus and Martin, Mariah Ramirez, President of the Graduate Student Council at Seattle U, said that the two candidates reflected two distinctly different perspectives.
“Tom Stritikus seems more business-focused and approached the interview from a practical perspective,” Ramirez said. “Shane Martin spent more time focusing on the academic aspect of the job.”
Deena González and Judith Karshmer, the other two finalists, have Open Forums this week—González’s was on Tuesday, and Karshmer’s will be Nov. 9 from 12:30–1:45 p.m. in Pigott Auditorium. The biographies of the candidates are posted on the Seattle U website, and the new Provost will be announced later this month.
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