by Caitlyn Starkey
The process of hiring a new provost and executive vice president is underway with the recent formation of a search committee.
“The provost/EVP 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 the “Attributes of the Next Provost & Executive Vice President” webpage on the Whitworth website.
The provost is the chief academic officer and is in charge of the academic affairs division of the university. Academic affairs includes the college of arts and sciences, the school of education, the school of global commerce and management and the school of continuing studies. The individual hired for this position will also hold the title of Executive Vice President, which implies that they are the second-highest ranking administrator, President Beck Taylor said.
“So while there are a variety of vice presidents at the university the Executive Vice President is the first among equals if you will,” Taylor said. “This person serves as my primary advisor on institutional issues. At times [the provost/EVP] will be called on to represent me when I am either off campus or away from my duties here.”
Last spring, Michael Le Roy resigned from the roles of provost and executive vice president to accept the position as president of Calvin College. Since his resignation, professor of education Barbara Sanders has been serving as interim provost.
The advertisement and profile of the job has been published. They are looking for someone who respects and is drawn to the Whitworth’s unique mission, and supports its invitation to have serious and broad conversation on issues, Taylor said.
“The person really needs to grasp who we are as an institution and be excited about coming into our unique environment and champion and support the kind of academic programs that we want to build here,” he said.
As applicants begin to respond to the advertisement, the search committee has made steps to gather information on what the Whitworth community is looking for.
“The ad is out, people are contacting the search firm. The search committee is in the process of gathering some input from the campus community at this point,” said Donna Pierce, professor of mathematics and search committee co-chair.
The committee is looking for a strong leader with experience in academic administration.
“What people will say is that they are looking for someone who walks on water,” Pierce said with a laugh. “I think part of what we are doing now is trying to ask the campus community what are the additional, more specific things people are looking for — or characteristics of a provost that they think are important — as we move forward with the strategic plan.”
The search committee will be accepting and reviewing applications through November. In early December, the application pool will be narrowed to a list of semi-finalists. The semi-finalists will be invited to confidential, off-site interviews in Spokane. In mid-February, the two or three final candidates will come to campus.
While on campus, finalists will present workshops and the campus community will have the opportunity to ask questions.
“As we bring finalists to campus, the time when students will have the most opportunity to engage in the process is by attending the workshops that these finalists will present, by asking good questions and giving their input on their sense of who might fit best within the organization,” Taylor said.
Student representative on the committee, senior Macy Olivas, encouraged students to be involved in the process right now, however. Olivas presented to ASWU on the current status of the Provost/EVP search and asked for ASWU leader input.
“We are looking for students to really speak their mind as far as what they want in a future leader of Whitworth,” Olivas said. “This is impacting every department and even Beck Taylor as a leader. This is his right hand man or woman that will be hired.”
Taylor echoed Olivas, and he encourages students to learn about the position of provost and EVP as the position highly affects students.
“I think when students think about this person giving leadership to all of Whitworth’s academic programs, that really brings it home. While this person might seem far-removed from the interests of students, nothing could be farther from the truth. This person has everything to do with the kind of educational experience that students have here.”
Next to a presidential search, this is probably the most significant search for the campus community, Pierce said.
“The search committee welcomes your prayers,” she said.
Contact Caitlyn Starkey at firstname.lastname@example.org.