Working Together to Build Our Dynamic, Forward-Looking University
Serving as the chief academic officer of Stevens Institute of Technology is a sizable responsibility. But it also affords me the opportunity to be deeply immersed in much of what makes our university community special.
I would like to share some of what I have been working on as provost this year. I hope this gives you some insight into our diverse and dynamic institution and why I find my job so rewarding.
As provost, my portfolio is wide-ranging. The operations under my purview cover all aspects of the academic enterprise. That includes not just teaching and research, but also faculty and staff recruiting and development; graduate and undergraduate education, which includes graduate admissions and student affairs, graduate and undergraduate academics, international programs, the library, and the registrar’s office; budget considerations for the schools, departments and centers; our research, innovation, and entrepreneurship portfolio; institutional research and effectiveness; international student and scholar services; and academic space planning.
Some of my favorite activities allow me to interact with our students. In just the last couple of months, I have had the pleasure of welcoming approximately 500 new graduate students at orientation and meeting 82 prospective Ph.D. students from all over the world at our doctoral student recruitment weekend.
I have met with representatives of the Student Government Association and I have sat down with small groups of both undergraduate and graduate students for Pizza with the Provost sessions, giving me a chance to hear first-hand about their concerns as we share a meal in an informal setting. Members of my team are now involved in planning our annual Innovation Expo and Commencement activities, and I look forward with great pleasure to joining our students at graduation ceremonies to celebrate their achievements.
Stevens is committed to being a student-centric university and these activities are an important part of my team’s efforts to fulfill this mission.
Partnering with Faculty
I meet the Faculty Senate and its leadership, attend faculty meetings and confer with academic leaders to discuss needs and concerns within their programs and support their initiatives. Last month, I had the pleasure of enjoying a dinner with select members of the faculty, part of an ongoing effort to get to know our faculty better. Last week, I also hosted an inaugural reception to honor the significant contributions our faculty have made in their field through research, creative and scholarly activities.
I also meet with candidates for faculty positions, a demanding task but a vital part of fulfilling our strategic goal of improving the quality of our university and building its reputation.
I must confess that not everything I do could be considered exciting. As you might imagine, I spend a considerable amount of time in meetings. It can be mundane but it is necessary; these meetings are not only a valuable way for me to keep abreast of what is happening across the campus, but they also enable me to help address concerns in a myriad of areas, ultimately making Stevens a better place.
Throughout the semester, I meet regularly with the academic and administrative leaders of Stevens. In both one-on-one sessions and through vehicles such as the President’s Cabinet, Administrative Council, Academic Council and many other committees, the vice provosts, the four deans, faculty leaders and members of my own team help me stay on top of issues. Together, we solve problems—ranging from the immediate term to the long term—create and implement plans, develop procedures and processes, and formulate policies related to teaching, research, enrollment targets, campus infrastructure and academic enterprise budgets and finance.
Special Initiatives and Events
I have also been involved in discussions concerning important projects such the implementation of Workday Student; planning for our 150th anniversary celebration; meeting with leaders from other universities, such as Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with which our School of Business has developed a promising partnership; and the allocation of space in the new Gianforte Family Academic Center, which will be a fantastic addition to our campus.
I also meet with our president, Dr. Nariman Farvardin, so that we can collaborate on issues central to the academic enterprise and the university, and I work with members of the President’s Cabinet and university-wide committees such as the Budget Advisory Committee, which our CFO and I co-chair, and the Capital Budget Working Group.
Looking back over my calendar, I am also reminded of a number of special events that gave me great pleasure: the Employee Recognition Event in February; the January conference of the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), a gathering of presidents, provosts and CFOs from our peer universities, over which Stevens presided; and the New Department Chair Workshop in February, which I delivered in Houston with three AITU provosts to nearly 30 department chairs, including three from Stevens.
As you can see, fulfilling our academic mission and building Stevens’ reputation as a premier educational and research university requires an enormous amount of hard work by many people. I am grateful to all of my colleagues and students whose efforts help us move Stevens forward together.
Serving the Stevens community requires balancing many different interests and needs while often pivoting to handle urgent problems. It is important that no matter what challenges arise, we all remain on course to achieve our common goals.
Best wishes for success in the remainder of this semester!