Faculty raises concerns on provost search


Editor’s note: This story has been edited since its original print publication on Nov. 20, 2019.

CSUSM faculty and staff attended a campus open forum to discuss and share their insights into what each department is looking for when it comes to a new provost.

Representatives from various academic departments attended the forum at ARTS 240 on Nov. 8 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The last provost, Dr. Graham Oberem officially retired on July 1, after serving six and a half years for the tenured position.

Currently, Dr. Kamel Haddad has been serving as the interim provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

According to the CSUSM website, “The provost oversees the deans of the colleges, extended learning, instructional and information on technology services, and the university library, as well as the division’s academic associate vice presidents and the vice provost.”

In an email to the campus sent on Nov. 4, CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt said, “I have gone beyond the Senior Administrative Appointments policy to ensure faculty representation from each college and the University Library as I have heard how important this is to our faculty.”

“The search committee will be assisted by Isaacson Miller, a highly regarded search firm that knows our campus well. Isaacson Miller assisted in the presidential search and several other executive searches at CSUSM.”

Cati Mitchell-Crossley, a partner of Isaacson Miller, said “Our job as a firm is to assist the committee… we’re hoping to make the pool as deep and diverse as possible and to give them all the tools and information they need to winnow the pool down to hopefully a couple of great final candidates.”

Mitchell-Crossley continued to say that Isaacson Miller and the search committee were there for the forum to listen and learn from faculty, as well as to respond to feedback.

Faculty and staff had an opportunity to ask questions in a microphone that was passed around, raising their concerns and thoughts of what they are looking for in a new provost.

Jennifer Fabbi, the Dean of Library Administration said that she “would like to see the provost building bridges across all of the divisions. So being able to kind of look up from the work and academic affairs to build bridges across all of the divisions in order to help facilitate our work in academic affairs across the university.”

Many of the faculty and staff voiced that they want the new provost to be tech-savvy and have software skills.

Katherine Brown, Chair of the Communication Department,  said “I think that an important thing, still, for a provost to have a growth mindset is also to be able to think systemically and to include various kinds of data of not just one variety… [and] we’ve got to have someone who has extraordinary soft skills, STEM system awareness and ethical and emotional intelligence.”

A member from IITS said, “It is 2019 and it would be important for a provost to understand the usefulness of technology and it’s appropriate use on campus.”

Sally Melena, one of the academic schedulers on campus, brought up the issue of communication, which she said is a current problem on campus. She said that she wants the new provost to figure out how to reach and communicate with students better to let them know what is going on.

Many faculty members also spoke about their concerns about limited resources for lecturers and want the new provost to come up with a solution to address those financial needs. 

It was also emphasized how important it is that the new provost supports the liberal arts and not just STEM at CSUSM.

Laurette McGuire, an anthropology professor, said, “I would like to see somebody who embraces a liberal arts education and thinks of it forward, thinking about what it looks like and what it can be and what it does offers students.”

Once everyone asked their questions, the forum ended. Isaacson Miller and the search committee stayed to answer any other lingering questions that faculty and staff had.

Editor’s note: Correction

The printed version of this story contained two errors. The first name of Provost Kamel Haddad was misspelled and the title of Communication Department Chair Katherine Brown was listed in error. We regret the errors.