Provost candidates visit campus

Chelsea Birdsall

Of 50 applicants from around the nation, four remain

The nationwide search to find a new provost after the unexpected passing of former provost Paul Lang has been successfully narrowed down to four finalists, all of whom have been invited to tour campus.

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Awbrey
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Nelson

 Lesley Larkin, a faculty member in the English department, was chosen as the temporary substitute for provost and chief academic officer until a decision has been made on the candidacy.

She said a provost is responsible for communication between departments.

“She or he is responsible for working closely with the university’s colleges and departments to set and maintain academic priorities and to support excellence in teaching and scholarship,” Larkin said.

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Gallien

Larkin is also co-chair of the search committee responsible for finding a new provost. President Fritz Erickson said the search committee has worked hard to narrow down the candidacy list. More than 50 individuals applied but only 10 were chosen to move on to the next round, according to Erickson.

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Cirmo

Those 10 were narrowed down once more to include the four best applicants for the position. One finalist has already appeared on campus with the other three to soon follow.

On Thursday, Jan. 22, Gersham Nelson, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Central Missouri, made his appearance on campus.

Next to appear will be Louis Gallien, Ph.D., the current director of the Reich College Leadership Academy and professor of educational leadership at Appalachian State University on Thursday, Jan. 29.

On Monday, Feb. 2, Christopher Cirmo, Ph.D., the dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, will visit.

The last candidate, Susan Awbry, Ph.D., senior associate provost and professor of education at Oakland University, will make her appearance.

Senior double major in biology and Spanish Danielle Schafer is on the search committee and said she has had a nice time reviewing the candidates.

“These candidates come from a variety of backgrounds and each of them has a unique story,” Schafer said.

“It has been such a privilege to sit down and talk with them, and to listen to their experiences and their future plans.”

Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies Kerri Schuiling said the search committee is doing a variety of things before making their recommendation for President Erickson, who will then make the final decision.

“The search committee members are doing reference checks on all campus finalists,” Schuiling said. “Once all four have completed their on -campus visit, the search committee  will meet to discuss and determine which candidates they will recommend to the president.”

President Erickson has an idea of what he wants his candidate to have in terms of character traits but does not want to make a final decision on anyone until he has seen every candidate.

“We want someone who is really understanding of the academic enterprise and knows how to support faculty and students in the learning process,” Erickson said.

“I want to withhold judgement until I see all four of the finalists.”

Larkin said it is very important for all to be aware of the provost search because it affects everyone, including students and faculty.

“The new provost will play a key role in supporting and developing academic programs and opportunities, hiring and retaining outstanding scholars and teachers and supporting student learning across campus,” Larkin said. “The new provost will contribute directly to the development and implementation of the university’s strategic plan.”

Schafer said the fact that she can help the committee pick really highlights Northern’s involvement.

“I am really grateful that Northern allows their students to be involved with committees like these,” Schafer said. “It reflects that Northern truly values the opinions of the students and wants them to be involved in making decisions for the university.”

To learn more about the candidates, biographies and curriculum vitae are posted on NMU’s website as well as a schedule of their appearances.