The deadline to apply for the position of provost passed last week, and the provost search committee will begin the first interviews with candidates next week.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, approached Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College, to chair this committee late last semester. Schubert asked the provost at the time, Dr. Jeanine Varner, to step down near the end of last semester. Dr. Greg Straughn, who began as interim provost at the beginning of this semester, said he decided to not apply to be considered for provost.
“I’ve talked to Dr. Schubert and deans and several faculty members and told them I’ve struggled with trying to decide whether to apply or not,” Straughn said. “But as I look at the needs of my family, this is not the right time for me to apply for the position of provost.”
Johnson said the search reached one benchmark and is moving towards the next step in the course of finding the university’s chief academic officer.
“We reviewed the completed applications we received after the deadline and did an initial screening of those,” Johnson said. “We’ve narrowed a pool of candidates for the initial interviews, which will be the next step in the process. We’ll begin those next week, and they’ll last for a couple weeks.”
Johnson said the interviews will focus on finding how well each candidate fits the position.
“The questions we’ll ask are shaped around the input we received from around campus,” Johnson said. “We’ve taken that information and put it in a position profile.”
Johnson said the candidates’ abilities, knowledge and experience are all key to fitting the position profile.
“We want to know about the breadth of their academic ability,” he said. “We’ll ask about their own scholarship and their
administrative and academic leadership. There’s also questions about collegiality and collaboration and processes of how a university works.”
Johnson said he’s been impressed with the applications this far.
“We have excellent candidates,” he said. “I’m confident in the capabilities of the people who have applied. I think it’s an impressive group of candidates and the process will secure an excellent provost and academic officer for ACU.”
Johnson said all or almost all of the members of the committee will be present at each interview.
“Our goal is to have no more than one or two not present at each interview,” he said.
Straughn was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before assuming the position of interim provost. He said he has not and will not apply to be considered for provost.
“I’ve talked to Dr. Schubert and deans and faculty I’ve had strong relationships with over the last few years and told them I’ve struggled with trying to decide whether to apply or not,” Straugh said. “But as I look at the needs of my family, this is not the right time for me to apply for the position of provost.”
Straughn said that after seriously considering applying, he told Schubert and the search committee that he wouldn’t be applying for the position.
“I told the committee my intentions so they could openly acknowledge that when they were interviewing potential candidates,” he said. “It’s important for the search process to know whether or not the interim is going to apply, and I knew it was important for me to communicate my decision as early in the process as I could.”
Straughn said the next provost will have a full schedule and should expect a busy experience in the position.
“Something comes up new to my experience or something I haven’t been a part of before constantly,” Straughn said. “It’s been challenging, invigorating and exhausting, and yet I feel like it’s a service to the university.”
The provost search committee will continue to accept applications as the Feb. 6 deadline was for optimal consideration but not a hard deadline. Johnson said no applications have been turned in since the deadline.