Provost candidate Frendreis speaks on taking risks to better MU

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One of Marquette’s final four provost candidates, John Frendreis, spoke on campus Tuesday night about the four issues he found most crucial for the university, and his willingness to take risks to address those issues.

Frendreis is a political science professor at Loyola University Chicago, where he also served for two years as provost, among other high-ranking administrative positions. The critical issues he identified were inequality, diversity, globalization and sustainability.

“When I think of the challenges our institutions face, I really orient them in terms of the world our students are going to enter and live in for the next 20 or 30 years,” Frendreis said.

Regarding inequality and diversity, Frendreis said he wants to find ways of directing and facilitating student focus on relevant issues, including race-relations and immigration, which are problems plaguing the country.

“You don’t have to have been paying enormous attention through the last year in the United States to understand that issues of diversity are still with us, still alive,” Frendreis said, referencing racial tensions in places like Ferguson, Mo. and New York City, N.Y.

To increase faculty diversity on campus, Frendreis proposed having the provost also be the chief diversity officer, which he said would show the university’s dedication to the goal.

One element Frendreis said he finds vital to Marquette students is an increased cultural awareness, which he proposed to solve with an increase in students involved with study abroad programs.

“When I was a student, study abroad was rare and exotic . . . Today, 27 percent of the graduating seniors have had a study abroad experience,” Frendreis said. “I don’t think it’s crazy to say that should be closer to 50 (percent).”

The final factor he addressed before opening his talk to questions from the audience was sustainability, and how it could be improved at Marquette.

“I think it’s the great challenge – assuming we don’t somehow blow ourselves up – of the younger peoples’ generation,” he said.

When asked about his preferred budget model, Frendreis said he’d rather look at each college separately when considering their individual ability to contribute to operating costs or profitability, and then to treat the colleges accordingly. This, he said, would prevent needless financial measures while simultaneously providing transparency for parents and students with how money is being spent.

“I think we have an ethical responsibility to give people good value for the dollars that they and their parents are borrowing,” Frendreis said. “If somebody’s going to go $40,000 into debt, they deserve (to know how) that money is being put into their child’s education.”

Other plans Frendreis mentioned included creating research opportunities for undergraduate students, developing more academic leaders, and further strengthening the “strong provost” model the university currently uses by increasing involvement with more departments at Marquette.

Frendreis was the project coordinator for Arrupe College at Loyola University, which targets under-served, low-income students that wouldn’t normally be deemed “college ready,” to give them more higher education opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.

The Arrupe College program targets students with lower ACT scores, who don’t expect financial contribution from their families. It provides them with rigorous academic training, an associates degree and the ability to transfer to almost any school in Illinois – all with an expected retention rate of 85 percent, which is the same as Loyola’s.

“It’s a risk, it’s a high-profile risk, and we could fall flat on our face. What we have set aside for ourselves is the hardest task in higher education,” Frendreis said. “We’re going to do this, or die trying.”

Because he wouldn’t be running the program, Frendreis said he wouldn’t be opposed to trying something similar at Marquette.

“We don’t have to take the bigger risk here,” he said. “We can find out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and do it better here.”

Frendreis will speak again Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 12 p.m. in the Raynor Library Beaumier Suites.

To access the provost videos and feedback forms, click here. Videos are restricted to on-campus and Marquette VPN users. The feedback forms are due Wednesday, Jan. 28.

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