Two of the candidates chosen as possibilities for the position of provost/executive vice president visited the College last week.
Concetta Stewart, dean of the School of Communications and Theater and associate professor of communications at Temple University, and Elizabeth Paul, interim provost and vice president and professor of psychology at the College, were chosen by the Provost/Executive Vice President Search Committee after interviews.
Carol Bresnahan, vice provost for academic programs and policies and professor of history at the University of Toledo, is the third candidate.
During a Q-and-A session held in the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall on Feb. 1, Paul said the College, as a public institution, needs to stay connected with what the country needs.
“Are we preparing our future leaders to be complete people?” she asked.
Paul said the challenge the College needs to face is to make the “complete student” the goal of its work. She also said a fresh approach to teaching is needed, one which focuses on interdisciplinary programs.
According to Paul, the first step to reaching these goals is to work on the quality of guidance and advising available to students.
“We still have this idea of liberal learning as checking a bunch of boxes,” she said.
Instead, advisers should help students think about the future and make suggestions about classes that will help them meet their objectives.
She said that coaches of team sports should also serve as advisers and mentors to the students. She mentioned that athletics is an area where a student can learn about leadership and how to work as a team through challenges.
Paul also said part of making a “complete student” is making citizens who have open minds and open eyes about their community and what they can do to have a positive impact on it.
“In our society, we’ve done a lot to keep our eyes closed, to not see the ills,” Paul said. “We should open our students’ eyes so that they can’t close them again.”
In her session on Jan. 29, Stewart stressed the importance of higher education and liberal learning.
According to Stewart, higher education has been facing problems in New Jersey lately, because “our constituencies don’t like us very much.” She said that as provost, she would have conversations with legislators and parents to determine what they want and need from higher education institutions.
Stewart said she was attracted to the College because of its position as a successful institution. When asked about how she would use the College’s Master Building Plan to further the success of the school, she said it should reflect the needs of the “academic enterprise” and the College’s responsibility to society as an institution of higher education.
“Facilities are central to how we feel about the institution, how the institution feels about us and how the institution serves its purpose,” Stewart said.
Stewart also said she would strive for a greater balance between academics and student activities at the College. She said while she is a supporter of sports at Temple, she also works to identify athletes who need extra help with their academics early, a skill she would bring to the College.
“When we talk about undergraduate students, it’s important to talk about the whole range (of academics and activities),” she said.
Tim Asher, director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, said he is not convinced the College is doing all it can to develop students into leaders and asked Stewart what she would do to change that.
She responded by saying leadership is of interest to her and that teaching leadership to the students of an institution begins with the faculty and staff of that institution exhibiting leadership. According to her, this will set an example for the students to follow.
“We always say to students, ‘We’re not preparing you for your first job, we’re preparing you for your best job,'” Stewart said.
For the résumés of the three candidates, visit provostsearch.intrasun.tcnj.edu.