Passing the provost’s torch: interviews for the next chief academic officer bring reflection on Dr. Carol Simon’s time at Whitworth

by Rachel Ayres | News Editor

With the change of a new decade also comes change within Whitworth leadership. Current Provost and Executive Vice President Carol Simon, Ph.D., will be retiring from her position after the end of the academic year. 

To fill Simon’s spot, the provost/executive vice president search committee has narrowed down the applicant pool from 40 candidates to three.

Between Feb. 5 and 14, the three finalists visited campus for the last part of their interview process. While on campus, the candidates entertained questions from students and staff at forums.

“The provost and executive vice president serves as the most senior administrator reporting directly to the president, holds an appointment to the president’s cabinet and serves as the university’s chief academic officer,” according to Whitworth’s website.

As the second-highest ranked leadership member, the position of provost/EVP works very closely with President Beck Taylor. 

Regarding the new provost/EVP, Taylor says the person elected for the position must embody Whitworth’s mission and be committed to academic quality.

“I expect the provost and executive vice president to be a successful faculty member and administrator in their own right, and to lead with humility, open-mindedness, transparency and thoughtfulness,” Taylor said.

He said he hopes to have the new provost selected by the end of February.

Seven years ago, Simon herself was one of the finalists interviewing for her current position.

Before coming to Whitworth, Simon was a faculty member and administrator at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, for 25 years. There, she taught and held administrative roles. 

“My administrative roles included being associate dean of teaching and learning, director of general education, and interim dean of social sciences,” said Simon. 

Those roles prepared Simon for her time at Whitworth, where she has contributed to  multiple projects, such as Whitworth’s budget prioritization process a couple of years ago and more recently the revamp of Whitworth’s shared curriculum, Taylor said.

“Dr. Simon has contributed greatly to sustaining and strengthening Whitworth’s mind-and-heart mission,” Taylor said. “She believes strongly in the power of combining a strong Christian liberal arts education with a nurturing and caring environment for our students.” 

As the two highest ranking executives at Whitworth, Taylor and Simon work closely together. 

Taylor said he sees Simon as a “wise and thoughtful leader.”

“She has an uncanny ability to see important connections between seemingly distinct elements when we are making important decisions. She cares deeply for academic quality and supporting our students and faculty with the tools they need to succeed,” Taylor said.

Once officially retired, Simon will be moving with her husband to Charlotte, North Carolina. There, they will be closer to family and hope to volunteer within their new community. Also, Simon looks forward to having more time to write.

“It has been hard to work on book-length projects as an administrator,” she said. 

Meanwhile, set to be released this spring is a collection of provost homilies and addresses that will be published by Whitworth. 

“‘Setting Sail on Mighty Waters’…contains the seven new faculty installation homilies and the seven spring convocation addresses that I have given over my years at Whitworth,” Simon said. 

As Simon continues through her last semester and Whitworth prepares for a new provost/EVP, Taylor believes her work at Whitworth will leave a lasting impact.

“We are a better and stronger institution because Dr. Simon was with us,” Taylor said.

To learn more about the selection process for the new provost/EVP, go to