Search for Crawford’s Replacement Continues

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JESSIE KOON • THE SPECTATOR

After former provost Isiaah Crawford assumed his role as president of the University of Puget Sound in July, Seattle University began its search for a new academic leader to fill Crawford’s shoes. Robert Dullea, President of Planning, is filling the roll temporarily as Interim Provost while the search committee looks for a replacement.

JESSIE KOON • THE SPECTATOR
JESSIE KOON • THE SPECTATOR

After leaving Seattle U, Provost Isiaah Crawford has been named the 14th president of the University of Puget Sound.

The search committee is composed of Seattle U educators, staff and two student representatives that will work hand-in-hand with Isaacson Miller, an executive search firm hired by Seattle U. The committee will receive regular updates on the search, participate in “listening” sessions, review applicants and partake in the interviewing process. Finally, they will submit their recommendations to President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J.

The provost, in short, is the leader of the academic side of the university. They report directly to the president, interact closely with the faculty as the leadership of the council of deans and work with the cabinet, a group of campus leaders whom advise the president.

“The power of the provost comes from leading and guiding the university as it articulates and develops its academic priorities,” said Maria Bullon-Fernandez, Co-Chair and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “The provost does so through conversation with faculty, the president, and the cabinet.”

The provost also works closely with Academic Assembly, an elected body of faculty members created to advise the president and the board of trustees on issues regarding academics, university policy, budgeting and strategic planning.

“Being in conversation with many people at the highest level of leadership at the university will give the provost the power then to implement certain programs,” Bullon-Fernandez said.

She emphasized the importance for the committee to find a provost with leadership characteristics: “Someone who is a collaborator, someone who sees themselves as part of a team, someone who listens, who will take the time to listen to different perspectives, someone who is passionate about education.”

The provost is expected to be a “chief advocate of the academic mission,” a phrase that has been clarified within the provost search statement to signify Seattle U’s path toward academic excellence. This excellence is characterized by student experience, diversity, and growing connections with neighboring parts of the city.

These goals have been picked to specifically fit Seattle U’s academic and campus-specific needs, and to ensure a better outlook for its future.

Jason Wirth is a professor for the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the search committee. He spoke deeply about how the university’s mission statement has become so critical for the success of the school, especially regarding inclusivity and diversity.

“I think, with all the events that have happened on campus throughout the last couple of years, including [the MRC protests], it is going to be very important to have a provost whose vision of excellence is maximally inclusive,” Wirth said.

“Diversity is going to be front and center. A huge issue for the provost as the SU student body quite rightly abides judgment, insists on a diverse education, and a maximally inclusive education. I think that’s a great development and the provost has to set the tone for that.”

Bullon-Fernandez agrees that questions on diversity have stood as an overhanging issue.

“Someone who can speak to the values of SU, including holistic education and social justice,” she said, “We want to create an education that is transformational for students.”

Apart from the social environment the campus symbolizes, the committee is struggling to choose a provost who can cultivate the excellence of the classroom when tuition costs have many students feeling uneasy.

The issue of rising tuition in institutions of higher education has hit the entire country: “The new provost must be knowledgeable about this issue and keep it in conversation to make sure that we are accessible for all types of students,” Bullon-Fernandez said.

The committee members are not the only people involved in the decision process for the new provost. The committee asks that students become involved with the search and think deeply on what they want in a new provost.

In an attempt to inspire student involvement, Student Government at Seattle University representative and undergraduate student Braden Wild, as well as Graduate Student Council representative and graduate student Alicia Bissonnette, are members of the search committee.

“It’s important to make sure there is a graduate student on the committee as a representative, because we, for the most part, aren’t on campus for long periods of time, but still wish to engage with faculty,” Bissonnette said.

There will be a survey posted on the provost search webpage for students to submit feedback. There will also be opportunities for students to join campus interviews with prospective candidates.

“I would like students to not underestimate the influence they could have on candidates if they are apart of campus interviews and say these are our concerns.” Bullon-Fernandez said.

Erika may be reached at
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