UNC’s search for a new provost begins

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Search consultants from the Witt/Kieffer leadership recruitment firm invited University of Northern Colorado faculty, staff and students on Oct. 2 to give their thoughts and suggestions for the provost leadership profile.

Mercedes Vance and Robert Luke, the Witt/Kieffer consultants, held the meeting in the Columbine suites at the University Center. Witt/Kieffer has 45 years of experience placing highly qualified people in executive positions. Vance has been involved in over 150 successful searches and Luke has managed about 15 search processes. This company is currently working with University President Andrew Feinstein and the university as a whole to find a new provost.

According to the UNC website, the provost reports directly to the president and is considered the university’s chief academic officer. Luke described the provost as the “main driver of life on campus.”

The goal of the meeting was for the recruitment firm to get input from the community and to become more familiar with the culture and needs of the campus. They will use the information they gain from the meeting to develop a leadership profile to present to the search committee. This profile is created through human resource requirements, input from the president and suggestions from the community on campus.

Shane Murphy, a UNC graduate student, said he would like the provost to manage and support the graduate programs and its students more efficiently.

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“It would be shortsighted to just say ‘We want more undergraduate research’ without realizing that we need more graduate student support,” said Shane Murphy, a UNC graduate student. “That’s something I feel a provost could benefit from, is having other experience or exposure with a graduate school and graduate students.”

Another student suggested the importance of culture on campus, because UNC holds high populations of first-generation students and students of color. Some students who also gave their opinions at the meeting want similar qualities of Feinstein in respect to his openness and involvement on campus.

Vance and Luke assured students’ opinions would be considered during the development of the leadership profile. Once that profile is completed and approved, Vance said she hopes to be advertising the position by the end of next week, so the the recruitment process can begin.

Vance said the recruitment process takes five to six weeks, and their recruitment team will give a list of all the candidates to the committee, which is comprised of university staff, faculty and students. The committee narrows down the candidates to about 10 people, and those interviews will begin during the end of November or early December. Only three or four of those candidates will receive on-campus interviews in January. These interviews are conducted by the entire committee.

Vance touched on how they might present candidates to the committee in order to make the process smoother and the decisions easier.

“We try to take candidates off paper for the committee,” Vance said. “Why are they interested? Why now? Are there barriers for a move?”

Vance said moving to a new city, having kids in school, and uprooting a significant other are all potential barriers for candidates that the committee will need to consider in their search.

Suggestions, comments and questions about the search should be directed to Vance (207-219-8258) and Luke (781-564-2620).

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