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Provost listening session held for students, staff

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As Marquette transitions into a “strong provost” model of governance, the search for its permanent academic leader aims to fill a void in implementing the school’s strategic plan.

John Su, chair of the provost search committee and director of the University Core of Common Studies, stressed at listening sessions Monday afternoon that the previous organizational structure of the university did not give the provost enough power to carry out the university’s outlined priorities.

The new organizational structure that was announced last fall will position the provost as leader of the university’s deans and vice presidents.

“In many respects, it’s not so much about the person as it is the role,” Su said at a listening session geared for students to give input to the search committee. “There’s been a gradual increase in the activity of the provost. In many ways, the provost is more important to your daily life than the president.”

The search committee for Marquette’s next provost hosted four listening sessions throughout Monday, collecting input from faculty, staff and students on what they want in the person who will lead the school’s academics.

Participants touched on a wide variety of issues -campus safety, the lack of fine arts on campus and the quality of advisers- at a student session in Raynor Memorial Library. The input will be considered by members of the search committee and representatives from Isaacson, Miller, the firm that is conducting the nationwide search.

A handful of students at the session expressed their appreciation toward Lovell’s engagement with students during the past month and last week’s inauguration events.

“We really need someone to be student-driven,” said Courtney Guc, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration. “I would like to see the provost meeting with students on a regular basis.”

Most of the discussion focused on the quality of faculty and professors, as the provost will take a lead role in developing the school’s hiring and diversity strategies.

While students offered feedback of their experiences with professors, Carolyne Hurlburt, an English graduate student, suggested that student input regarding faculty would have more power if course evaluations were internally published within the university.

Marquette Student Government President Kyle Whelton, who serves as the student representative on the search committee, responded by saying that evaluations could not be published because low response rates keep them from being “scientifically valid.”

A number of students also expressed frustration regarding diversity on campus and how students react to Milwaukee’s urban environment and students of color. Some suggested that the university offer diversity training for new students, similar to the online courses offered for alcohol use and sexual violence.

The provost search was put on hold for 10 months while Marquette started searching for a president fall 2013. It resumed in August, following the decision to hire University President Michael Lovell in March.

The new provost is slated to be announced no later than March 2015, following sessions in January in which candidates will come to campus to meet with the community. Su stressed that students interacting with candidates will be essential in the search process.

“We’re looking for folks who are really happy where they are and who have a much bigger salary than me,” Su said. “They’ll be interviewing us just as much as we’ll be interviewing them.”

Video By Andrew Schilling 

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