The search for a new provost continues
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The process of finding an interim provost has come down to three candidates: James Woolever, Stephan Fitz and Denise Wilbur.
According to the chairman of the University Senate, Joe Levendis, within a few weeks, the provost will step down a day before the interim is to take his position so that there will be no confusion.
Leading up to the University Senate meeting held on Thursday, Feb. 16, the candidates were given a tour of the campus and had a chance to interact with the students.
At the University Senate meeting, candidates had a chance to present themselves in front of the staff and board members, and to answer any questions and address concerns.
To help the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, get feedback with his decision on each candidate, members of the Senate were given a candidate evaluation form to fill out after each speech. The form contained several categories that had ratings from one to five.
The first candidate to speak was James Woolever.
According to his resume, Woolever most recently held the position of provost at Menlo College in California.
Woolever’s resume states that he, “rejuvenated the academic programs at Menlo College.”
According to his resume, this rejuvenation led to Menlo College being recognized for six straight years as one of The Princeton Review’s “Best in the West Colleges.”
During his speech, Woolever stressed that the interim position here is temporary and his intentions.
“We aren’t to make any reductions or cuts to programs at the University,” Woolever said. “What we’re really here to do is to provide a seamless transition from your current provost who will be stepping down and the new provost that will be appointed probably in a year.”
The next candidate, Stephan Fitz, previously held the position of interim provost at the Midland University, where, according to his resume, he assessed the budget and reorganized academics.
During his speech, Laura Murphy, assistant professor of English, questioned his credibility and fitness for the job.
“I did a little research, and maybe these articles were a little less optimistic, but the articles I read said that when you left the university was in a crisis, it was about to lose its accreditation, its student body had sunk to its lowest ever, it was operating at a deficit, that it had crushing debt,” Murphy said.
After attributing the article to now Sen. Ben Sasse, Fitz said, “To the financial crisis, I launched a $20 million campaign that raised significant dollars for the university.” He continued, “In my opinion, while I was there–there was no financial crisis.”
When questioned about the endowment numbers that the inivesity holds today, Fitz said that he left in 2010. When asked to recall the numbers from when he left Fitz responded, “I do not recall.”
The last candidate, Denise Wilbur was previously the interim provost at Marywood University in Pennsylvania. During her time at the university, she oversaw four colleges and a freestanding school of architecture.
During her speech, one of the faculty members asked, “Why should we trust you as someone who has not had our job?”
“I wouldn’t say that I haven’t had your job before,” Wilbur responded. “I would say that there were parts of the requirements that you may have of the job that I didn’t necessarily have.”