By Taylor Forrest
With a new president in place, Southwestern College has undergone numerous changes: new staff, and increased scholarship funds are two of the most obvious alterations, but Southwestern is currently undergoing another shift, making way for a change that will happen in the near future. The previous administration which consisted of a provost and three deans is being replaced with a construction of new positions.
The positions of provost, dean of main campus, dean of education, and dean of professional studies have been terminated and in its place, the college will now host the positions of vice president of academic affairs, vice president of online learning, and vice president of administration.
Tammy McEwen, co-chair of the vice president search committee, said that this change came after the previous provost, Andrew Sheppard, left and the college was really able to evaluate the setup of the administration.
“I think president Andrews wanted to first of all investigate whether we needed that position, how much administration we had at that point, was everybody doing things the most effective way,” said McEwen. “So he appointed an interim provost and then I think with working with the interim provost and seeing how things went, just based on issues and conditions, maybe not things that are bad, but just how things work at Southwestern, I think he just decided that a vice president and two associate vice presidents are better than a provost and three deans.”
Brad Andrews, president, also said that the implementation of a vice president of academic affairs came as a result to simplify and streamline the administration process. Instead of having four chief academic officers (provost and three deans), Andrews said he wanted to have one chief academic officer with two associates to help with other administrative complexities.
“I want an academic leader and an effective administration. And so there will be a second associate vice president who will be supporting the vice president in terms of administrative details and the third associate vice president will be supporting the vice president in online learning,” said Andrews.
The search for the vice president of academic affairs is currently underway with the search committee being aided by Wanda Bingham, search consultant. Tracy Frederick, interim provost, and Tammy McEwen, assistant professor of biology, are co-chairs of the committee. Jackson Lashier, assistant professor of religion, Michelle Boucher, associate professor of English, Brian Winnie, co-chair of the music department, Patrick Lee, assistant professor of accounting, Christine Rogers, associate professor of education, Lonnie Boyd, director of human resources, Dean Clark, executive vice president, and Mike Lewis, board of trustees’ member, also serve as members of the search committee.
As of March 16, the search committee has had access to all application packets and will reconvene April 3 to select eight to ten semi-finalist applicants that will be interviewed off-campus. From there, the search committee will select three to four final applicants who will be chosen to visit campus and conduct interviews on April 10 and 11. It is then up to the president to select the vice president of academic affairs from the onsite applicants and the recipient will be charged to start July 1.
The search committee and the president were not the only ones that were able to provide input in the search for the vice president. Students, faculty and staff were invited to an input meeting in which they were able to voice their concerns and opinions about what qualities they think the chief academic officer on campus should possess. The meeting was conducted at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 in Wroten Hall and was led by the search consultant, Wanda Bingham. The following individuals attended the meeting: Dana Thompson, Wanda Bingham, Abby Elliott, Stephannie DeLong, Steve Kramer, Arthur Smith, Chris Barker, Tammy McEwen, and Taylor Forrest.
At the input meeting, Bingham laid out the bare requirements that she, the president, and the search committee had agreed on. The requirements are as followed: the individual must have a PhD and have attended or served at a liberal arts accredited institution. The applicant must also have a progressive academic experience with a level of dean or higher.
Although those are the bare requirements, McEwen said that they are also looking for an intellectual to lead the college.
“We are really looking for someone to be what we termed as the intellectual leader of the campus, an academic leader. Someone that is concerned about academic rigor and is concerned about growing our academic programs,” said McEwen. “We are also looking for someone that understands what it means to be at a small liberal arts institution, that understands our students, but also understands what is going on in higher education.”
This is not the first modification on campus that has underlined academic growth. Under Andrews, Southwestern has also introduced the Moundbuilder and Pillars Scholarship competitions, which offer full-tuition scholarships for academically focused incoming students. In addition, a full-tuition scholarship has also been added for transfer students. When asked about whether the scholarship competitions, which emphasize academics, and the current emphasis on a “chief academic officer,” have any correlation the president said that they are definitely tied together.
“They flow from the same vision for this college that I have,” said Andrews. “Which is that we need to successfully attract, recruit and admit students of great potential, help students identify that potential and equip them to reach that potential… So I believe there is an analogous relationship there and a direct connection in terms of all flowing to this vision of where are we going to be in five years. We want each year to make the claim that we are increasing the quality of education each year.”
Taylor Forrest is a senior majoring in communication. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.