As the introductions to the finalists’ wind down, the Provost Search Committee and President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J. are making final decisions on who the next Provost is going to be.
The Provost Search Committee has narrowed down the Provost candidates to just four finalists. The first two finalists, Shane Martin and Tom Stritikus, spoke on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 to staff, students and members of the Seattle University community.
The candidates shared their approaches to shared governance, tenure for adjunct faculty, cutting programs, faculty research, as well as discussing tuition options. The last two finalists, Deena González and Judith Karshmer, spoke this past week on Nov. 7 and Nov. 9, respectively.
Deena González explains her qualifications for provost to the University community in Pigott Auditorium on Tuesday at noon.
González is currently the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and has held that position since 2012. In Faculty Affairs, she facilitated LMU’s new Rank and Tenure processes, and developed efficient methods of communication with faculty regarding sabbaticals and leaves, contractual obligations and grants.
“There’s not a single leader that’s going to get at an audience and say, ‘I don’t believe in transparency, I don’t believe in being collaborative,’ but I think that collaboration and strategic planning, transparency and shared governance, in particular occur with respect,” González told the audience. “I bring a healthy amount of respect for faculty, teaching faculty and the adjunct faculty.”
Judith Karshmer, the final Provost finalist, spoke on Nov. 9. Karshmer was the Dean of the School of Nursing & Health Professions at the University of San Francisco (USF) for over 10 years. During her time as dean she launched multiple graduate programs. In 2014, Karshmer was named one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business, and in 2016, she was added to the Forever Honor Roll.
“You can get so in-your-box that if we’re not constant and vigilant, we can slip back into that mindset,” Karshmer said at the forum. “As a Provost, I don’t want to wait to bring issues up, but rather push them forward in the beginning.”
Judith Karshmer, one of the Provost finalists, is coming from the University of San Francisco where she spent 10 years as the Dean of the School of Nursing & Health Professions.
Tuition and grant money is considered revenue at Seattle U, as opposed to endowment-driven public universities like the University of Washington. González believes that loans and student debt are sewn together with accessibility and affordability, and she is aware that this is an important issue at Seattle U. She also believes that this has to do with recruitment of students, as once students are recruited, the problem arises in keeping them at the university.
González points out that students that can be easily recruited long-term are not the students who are given huge scholarships from the institution. Easily recruited students are those that get a token amount from the university as encouragement and then have to piece together their own financial payment plan. She also told the audience that friends of the university and philanthropists like giving to students, whether that’s towards need-based or merit-based scholarships.
The question then arises on how Seattle U, as an institution, draws that money so that revenue is used for security of the institution and contributes to the health and well-being of the students in the short term.
Karshmer has a different approach, and she believes that the problem lies in how much debt a student is in and how as an institution, the school makes sure that the students are leaving the university in a timely manner.
Overall, Karshmer talked about helping students find a career path rather than focusing on an end goal. To do this, she would like to focus on competency-based outcomes for learners, preparing them well enough to get jobs. Career planning with students will allow them to figure out what the first job and then the second job would pay. With this career-oriented program, Karshmer believes that student debt will decrease.
Ally Gibbons, Vice President of University Affairs for Student Government of Seattle University reflected on the primary difference between the two candidates.
“I think something that distinguishes Deena is the fact that she really seemed to connect to the SU mission statement and the values of a Jesuit school,” Gibbons said. “Judith, on the other hand, put a lot of emphasis on her leadership model of letting people have the opportunity to try new things in their roles without having too many consequences if it doesn’t work out as planned.”
All four candidates have different backgrounds and different perspectives. All of the biographies of the candidates are posted on the Seattle U website. Sundborg met with the Provost Search committee on Nov. 14 to discuss the strengths of each candidate, and the Provost will be announced later this month.
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