Search for new U provost continues

Widened publication of the job opening will open the door for new candidates.

Sally Hunter

A University of Minnesota committee is continuing its search to replace current Provost Tom Sullivan, who will step down at the end of 2011 after seven years.

The academic provost search committee is set to begin publishing the job opening in periodicals like the Chronicle of Higher Education, said Tim Mulcahy, vice president for research and chairman of the search committee. He said that multiple methods are being used to identify candidates both internally and externally.

âÄúWeâÄôre going to open the door as wide as possible,âÄù Mulcahy said.

As second-in-charge at the University, SullivanâÄôs position oversees academic policy, graduate and undergraduate education, curriculum and faculty tenure and promotions.

In fall 2009, Sullivan called on colleges to draw up plans for weathering the budget crisis, which led to the proposal to merge some College of Liberal Arts programs.

He also played a large part in the restructuring of the graduate school.

âÄúThe provost deals with everything involved in campus life,âÄù Mulcahy said. âÄúThe provost is even closer to students than the president.âÄù

Sullivan in February announced he would return to the law school as part of the faculty, where he was previously dean.

The search committee, formed about two months ago, is made up of one graduate student, one undergraduate student and 10 faculty members, is looking nationally as well as internationally.

In 2004, Sullivan was hired as provost internally. President Bob Bruininks, who served as provost before Sullivan, was also an internal hire at the University.

After reviewing applications in July, the search committee will submit names that an outside consultant will review. Applicants from that pool will be selected in mid to late August for off-campus interviews. Five to eight of those candidates will then be invited back for  on-campus interviews in September.

There will be opportunities for students to meet with candidates, ask questions and provide input during the September visits.

The search committee plans to meet with student groups to discuss what qualities students want the provost to have, Mulcahy said. There will also be a website where nominations can be sent, which will include information about the search.

ItâÄôs important to have a âÄúcampus dialogueâÄù throughout the search process, said Todd Sprague, who was a member of the committee for Evergreen State CollegeâÄôs recent provost search.

The process at Evergreen took six months. âÄúWe all put in hundreds of hours,âÄù Sprague said.

EvergreenâÄôs search committee focused on advertising, creating a job description and giving surveys to all faculty members and students before beginning the search.

Montana State UniversityâÄôs recent search for a provost lasted about seven months, said Douglas Steele, chairman of the search committee.
MontanaâÄôs search committee reviewed more than 60 applicants, eventually narrowing them down to four. Those four candidates visited the campus to host luncheons and open forums for the students, Steele said.

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs search committeeâÄôs goal is to give a list of candidates to President-designate Eric Kaler in October. He makes the final decision.