Provost candidates meet in forum

By Suzanne Tomse

General education requirements and teacher evaluations were among the issues addressed by two provost candidates at open forums held recently at NIU.

Members of the university community questioned Mark Auburn of the University of Arkansas last Tuesday and Warren Phillips of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Campus, yesterday in forums hosted by Jim Giles, University Council executive secretary, and Jim Fischer, Student Association president.

When discussing general education requirements, Auburn said the new provost should look at and revise NIU’s requirements because they do not provide enough of a central core.

Phillips said he believes in a quality general liberal arts education but he wants to find the best way to obtain it. He said he would do this by asking for input from faculty and administration.

On the issue of publishing teacher evaluations, Auburn said he had some reservations about it. He said the proposal should deal with a one-time visit to a teacher in a specific course.

Phillips said evaluations should be published in order to compare courses with national norms. He said at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Campus, quantitive teacher evaluations were public record. However, “blue sheets,” which enable students to present questions and opinions to the teachers, were kept private.

Giles questioned the candidates on how they view the provost’s function in relation to the university president and the Faculty Assembly. Auburn said the provost has to work with the president in addition to having the confidence of the faculty in order to be effective.

Phillips views the provost as the chief academic officer. “I represent, with every ounce of energy I have, the interests of my faculty. I work with the faculty senate or equivalent body in a wide-open exchange of opinions and interests,” he said. He added the provost should try to make sure the president knows what the faculty wants to do in a rational way.

Auburn’s and Phillips’s responses to the campus issues will be evaluated by Giles and Fischer, who will then submit their reports to the Provost Search Committee. Throughout the next two weeks open forums will be held for the other three provost candidates on April 10, 14 and 17 in Gabel Hall 119 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.