Provost finalists visit campus

Lori Allen/The News

Lori Allen/The News

After almost five months of planning and deliberation, the four finalists for the position of provost and vice president of Academic Affairs visited Murray State for their final evaluations before a official recommendation to President Randy is made by the provost search committee.

During their visits candidates had the opportunity to meet with a variety of the University’s administration including the current provost, Bonnie Higginson, several of the deans, Murray State’s chairs and directors, Dunn and Vice President of Student Affairs Don Robertson.

Finalists made presentations and answered audience member’s questions in a forum for faculty in Freed Curd Auditorium and at an open forum for the University community in Wrather Auditorium.

The first candidate to undergo the two-day scrutinization was Jay Morgan, Murray State’s associate provost of graduate studies.

Morgan outlined his vision for academic expansion saying the University needs to grow its way to success and not rely on cuts. He proposed the development of new academic programs to attract more students, the maintaining of a broad University Studies curriculum and minor academic reorganization and review by an academic committee.

He stressed outreach internationally and to rural areas as an important component of his plans if hired as provost, and pitched the increased utilization of Murray State’s regional campuses.

Charles McAdams, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwest Missouri State, was on campus April 4-5. McAdams said there are four issues facing higher education today: funding, the government’s expectation for increased graduation rates, the public’s growing concern with the actual value of a college degree and technology.

He said first the University should define where it wants to go and come to a common understanding of this goal, the problems at hand and then examine how Murray State is currently operating. To increase enrollment and in order for Murray State to market itself better to potential students he said the University needs to differentiate itself from the competition.

Next to visit was Bahman Ghorasi, current executive director of Fenn Academy and Fenn Research and Development Institute at Cleveland State.

Ghorasi explained how as the previous dean of the College of Engineering at Cleveland State through his and others’ creation and execution of a five-year plan they were able to increase enrollment by more than 100 percent, graduation rates by 50 percent and raise approximately $8 million for the institution, reaching and surpassing their set goals only three years into the plan.

As director of Fenn Academy and Fenn Research and Development Institute, a preparatory high school program for students wishing to pursue careers in engineering and technology.

He said he has extensive experience in working with area high schools and both promoting the university and retaining students who attend the academy.

Brenda Nichols, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lamar University in Texas, was the last provost candidate to visit.

She said the answers for problems which are facing Murray State such as how to raise student retention rates and how to increase overall enrollment needs to come not just from one person, the provost, but has to be an ongoing conversation between students, faculty and staff as well.

Nichols suggested an increase in undergraduate research projects and increased opportunities for students to study abroad as goals she would work towards if hired.

Jack Rose, chair of the provost search committee, said the committee hopes to make a decision on which prospective applicant to endorse and have a new provost appointed by the middle of April.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.