The provost at Pepperdine University and an associate dean at New Mexico State University have been named finalists for the position of provost. No internal candidates were asked for a final interview.
Dr. Darryl Tippens, provost at Pepperdine, and Dr. Robert Rhodes, associate dean for students and programs at New Mexico State will visit campus this month. Tippens be on campus this Thursday and Friday, and Rhodes will visit the week after spring break.
Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College and chair of the provost search committee, said the candidates’ interviews will be one of the committee’s final steps in the search for the university’s next chief academic officer.
Johnson said Tippens and Rhodes proved in the initial interviews, conducted through video conversations, they were the best candidates for the position.
“We feel like they both possess excellent leadership qualities,” he said. “We think they would be a very good fit for ACU and the position of provost.”
Both candidates bring different strengths to the table. Before working at Pepperdine, Tippens taught English literature at ACU. Johnson said Tippens’ experience as provost at another university is valuable and would apply at ACU.
Tippens, who is in his mid-60s, has served as provost at Pepperdine for more than a decade. He also served as chair of the division of language and literature at Oklahoma Christian University. He earned masters and doctorate degrees in English literature from Louisiana State University.
“I think he’s demonstrated excellent leadership as provost of that institution and commands a lot of respect and credibility because of the years of experience and work he’s done there,” Johnson said.
If he were to accept the position, Tippens likely would face a pay cut. The annual salary paid to ACU’s most recent provost was less than half that earned by Tippens at Pepperdine in 2010.
Johnson said while Rhodes hasn’t served as a university provost, his knowledge of and experience in diversity intrigues the committee. Rhodes, 43, earned a Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Northern Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oklahoma Christian University. He has served as chair and professor in New Mexico State’s school psychology department and worked as a professional school psychologist before that.
“Dr. Rhodes does have administration experience at New Mexico State, and he’s worked in a multicultural environment,” he said. “I think his work with diverse populations built bridges between different cultures and backgrounds. One of his strengths is he has a good read on the state of higher education across the landscape.”
Johnson said Rhodes’ work at a university without a Christian background does have its advantages along with some disadvantages.
“Dr. Rhodes brings the perspective of someone from a research institution,” Johnson said. “Both candidates possess different strengths, but they’re both excellent leaders with a vision for higher education and for what Christian higher education can be. We’re excited to learn more about each of them because ultimately this is the next step in discerning who would be the best fit for the university.”
The committee will meet March 24, a few days after Rhodes’ visit to campus, to begin the evaluation process. It should take about two weeks, Johnson said.
“It may be the first week in April when we should be able to come to a consensus about our recommendation to the president,” he said. “Dr. Schubert will act on our recommendation in his best judgment, but there will be steps along the way so it may be a while before there’s any public announcement made.”
Dr. Greg Straughn, interim provost, said he thinks the candidates are both qualified for the position of provost.
“Both candidates have valuable experience and proven leadership that would bring a new perspective to campus,” Straughn said. “I think that would be helpful.”
For more information on the candidates, their visit itineraries or the search committee, visit www.blogs.acu.edu/provostsearch.