The provost and vice president for academic affairs is the chief academic affairs officer of the College with responsibility for the planning, development, growth, and quality of all academic programs and related support functions. The responsibilities of the provost include the articulation of an academic vision, leadership in academic strategic planning that supports the institutional strategic plan, the development and administration of academic budgets, and the advancement of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Of the six vice presidents, the provost is “first among equals,” assuming significant responsibility for institutional management and oversight.
The provost has a significant role in multiple constituent groups on the campus. He or she joins with the president and other senior administrators and faculty in institutional strategic planning and policy development. The provost is a key member of internal and external groups, including labor-management committees, the College Council, and the system-wide chief academic officer’s group. The provost is expected to offer counsel to SUNY System Administration on a range of academic matters.
New Paltz has developed the following agenda that will capitalize on decisive, creative, and insightful academic leadership:
Promoting a Strong Academic Program and Student Success
New Paltz seeks strong and confident leadership for its academic programs. A key to this leadership will be a full understanding of the people, programs, and relationships that constitute the New Paltz community. The provost should engage in transparent leadership that fosters a strong sense of trust and respect from faculty, staff, administration, and students, and cultivates and empowers leadership at the department and school level. He or she will engage in discussions about – and provide leadership for – a wide range of educational issues, including curriculum review and general education reform, broader incorporation of innovative pedagogy and best practices for teaching and learning, enhancement and support of international programs, the development and context of online learning and distance education, articulation and achievement of the appropriate balance and integration among teaching, creative activity, research and scholarship, and service, as well as the promotion and support of interdisciplinary cooperation across schools and programs. The provost will lead new and creative ways to continue attracting, supporting, and retaining a diverse, high-quality faculty. The provost will also provide the traditional bridge between faculty and other New Paltz constituencies, advocating for the centrality of the academic program while working to further integrate all campus divisions.
The provost will play a key role in advancing and refining services and opportunities for student learning, academic achievement, and timely degree completion. The College’s strategic goals include continuing to raise retention and graduation rates. To this end, the institution is developing tighter linkages between curricular and co-curricular experiences; expanding honors programming, student research, internships, and other “high-impact” educational programming; strengthening advising; improving course scheduling to better facilitate student academic progress; and promoting refinement and clarity of curricular requirements. The provost will be expected to lead these efforts, support faculty development initiatives that enrich student intellectual growth, and partner with student affairs, enrollment management, and other units in improving student success and degree completion. The College is engaging in new efforts to increase individual and collective cultural competence, as part of the College’s efforts to recognize, respond to, and overcome challenges to the academic success of the most at-risk students; the provost will be expected to provide voice and support for this work.
Meeting Financial Challenges
Thanks to strong enrollments and a recent history of strong fiscal responsibility, the New Paltz budgetary status is comparatively sound. Nevertheless, as economic realities impact all of higher education, the provost will need the fiscal acumen to enable strong financial management and discipline across all areas of the College’s academic and administrative programs. As state resources continue to be constrained and aspirations are weighed against resources, the provost will be asked to oversee reliable operating budgets, build strategic academic business models, identify new and existing resources for program and infrastructure investment, and lead a conversation about potential new revenue streams. The provost will be expected to establish a respectful, mutually trustful relationship with the vice president for administration and finance to appropriately support academic needs and priorities while recognizing the other financial demands of operating a complex institution. The provost will have opportunity to participate in and advance the College’s fund-raising, philanthropic, and alumni engagement goals that will help us achieve a margin of excellence beyond that made possible by state support and tuition. This work may be undertaken both directly – often through partnership with the president and the vice president for development and alumni relations - and indirectly by mentoring and encouraging deans, department chairs, and faculty in their roles in philanthropy and alumni connections.
Serving the Larger Institutional Goals
President Donald Christian is in his sixth year of engaged leadership at New Paltz. As a member of the president’s cabinet and in collaboration with the president, the provost will identify and articulate the academic priorities that will define the future direction in which New Paltz wants to move and will lead and advance academic elements of the College’s strategic plan initiatives. His/her voice must be pivotal in translating the strength of current offerings and the connections of an academic strategic plan to long-term institutional goals. Beyond that, the provost will be instrumental in achieving consensus among other cabinet members and facilitating key partnerships between academic affairs and other units of the university, including student life, enrollment management, communication, and diversity initiatives. The provost’s ability to build relationships and connect people and programs will be a key factor in his or her success.
Supporting Reform of Faculty Governance
Like many other institutions, the system of faculty governance has been in decline, a shortcoming identified in the Middle States self-study in 2010-11 and noted again by many faculty and professional staff during the College’s strategic plan development in 2012. With a myriad of committees and structures, the system has been recognized generally as less efficient and functional than desired, and administration and faculty both seek a more effective way to ensure a strong faculty voice in institutional planning and governance in an era that demands prompt decision-making and action. Efforts to reform the system are underway. The new provost will have the opportunity to participate in and help inform faculty-led conversations leading to a system of shared governance that is both effective and empowering and will work toward the betterment of the entire New Paltz community and the future of the College.