Chancellor redefines Provost position

By Alex Gladden

Razorback Reporter


One of three finalists will be named to the second-highest UA position, a redefined job that the chancellor created. The office of provost and executive chancellor of Academic Affairs will become “a clear No. 2” in campus administration, the search committee chairman said.

Before this move, the UA vice chancellors had equal standings, but now they will answer to the provost, Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said in an interview.

The new position will create a first among equals, “whereas there wasn’t before,” said Peter Ungar, the search committee chairman.

The job includes two clear responsibilities, Steinmetz said.

The first is to be the chief academic officer at the university, which means that the provost will work with all the UA deans and other academic offices and be accountable for improving teaching and research initiatives.

The second major responsibility is to work with the units, such as Student Affairs, that support the Steinmetz’s academic goals.

Steinmetz was the executive vice president and provost at Ohio State University, the position he had before becoming UA chancellor in January, and expects a provost to be able to work closely with him in his duties as chancellor, Steinmetz said.

Steinmetz thinks it will be helpful that he worked as a provost because he knows what the difficult parts of the position are, he said.

“It’s helpful to have experience on both sides of this,” Steinmetz said.

Coleman, a provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Northern Arizona University, is leaving the job because he does not think he is compatible with that university, Coleman said when he spoke at the UofA on Oct 18. Coleman has had the position at NAU since August 2015.
Coleman said he thinks the position at the UofA is more in line with his skill set because he would be working closely with Steinmetz, communicating with deans, initiating collaborative efforts between disciplines, creating plans for the university and leading fundraising.

“Those are all things that A, really excited me and B, are very consistent with my skills, and those were not the same kind of roles that I played at NAU,” Coleman said.

Coleman and NAU President Rita Hartung Cheng mutually decided for him to step down from his position, said Kimberly Ott, the NAU director of communications and media relations.

Building cross-collaborative work, a diverse environment and community relationships are important goals for a UA provost, Tucker, the associate provost and dean of the Oklahoma State University Graduate School, said when she spoke at the UofA on Oct. 21.

Tucker could be a resource to grow the UA Graduate School and International Education because she is now involved with graduate-student work at OSU, ASG President Connor Flocks said.

There are 4,275 UA graduate students, while there are 22,548 undergraduate students, according to the Fall 2016 11th-Day Enrollment Report.

The UofA has a low number of graduate students for a research university of its size, Flocks said. Tucker could help to increase the number of graduate students at the university.
Sherman, the vice president for innovation and economic development and the chief operating officer for research foundation at the University of Akron, ranked his top priorities as encouraging student success, academic programs and hiring and retaining high-quality faculty and staff, Sherman said when he spoke here Oct. 13.
Before his six years at the University of Akron, Sherman spent 25 years at Ohio State University, according to his biography on the provost website. Sherman was at Ohio State during one year that Steinmetz was also there.

During the three candidates’ time on campus, they met with student, faculty and staff leaders.

“We’re looking at the candidates, but at the same time, the candidates are making an assessment of us – of whether this is the right opportunity for him or her,” Steinmetz said.

When the candidates came to the university, it was the first time Steinmetz had met them, but the search committee had previously interviewed the potential provosts when they interviewed them in Dallas, Ungar said.

The committee used a search firm, Greenwood-Asher, to help attract and identify some of the candidates.

“We wouldn’t have gotten the caliber and number of candidates we did without them,” Ungar said.


A version of this story appeared in The Arkansas Traveler.