Provost to be chosen

By Rhea Riley

The search for a provost and executive vice president is close to an end as NIU President Doug Baker will make his decision on who to hire as soon as possible now that candidate forums are over.

Monday and Tuesday, NIU hosted its last provost candidate, Marek Dollar. Each candidate — Martin Abraham, Salma Ghanem and Dollar — has participated in open forums with faculty and students as part of their interview process.

The campus has searched for a provost since the fall, when former Provost Raymond Alden stepped down to take a position as vice president of International Affairs. A fourth candidate, Chukuka Enwemeka, withdrew after accepting another job opportunity as Senior Academic Administrator at San Diego State University.

The search committee hopes to start training the new provost by July 1 or Aug. 15.

“I think the new provost just has a great opportunity to come in and continue to work on communications, transparency and making NIU a better place for students,” said Lisa Freeman, interim executive vice president and provost.

The provost is NIU’s chief academic adviser. The job consists of overseeing academics for graduate and undergraduate students. The provost ensures academic programs are strong and well-supported and collaborates with deans and colleges so their programs work efficiently and effectively.

Some preferred requirements for the position include creative thinking and problem solving, skills in program assessing and development, a doctorate or degree with teaching experience and understanding issues in the general academic field.

“It’s not always that easy to find all of the qualifications in the same person, so we are looking for someone who has good academic creditability,” said Alan Rosenbaum, chair of the search committee and University Council executive secretary.

Rosenbaum was appointed after Baker requested he chair the search for the provost. Each branch of academics and staff at NIU elects one member to serve as part of an internal search committee comprised of faculty members, deans and representatives of students, among others. NIU used a search firm, called Parker Executive Search, to help find candidates for the position.

The search committee gives Baker feedback from interviews, open forums and feedback forms. The committee talked to at least 10 other potential candidates before narrowing its candidate list to three.

“We want someone who is a good administrator and who can take responsibility for the budget, and we want someone who is a good communicator and who can reach out to different segments in the university,” Rosenbaum said. “We want all of those things wrapped into one person.”

After the provost is chosen he or she will be signed to a six-year contract with NIU. Baker will make the final decision on who is named provost aided by the feedback given to him by the committee.

“A key element [in being a provost] is making sure that students and faculty are given the tools that they need to succeed not only in the classroom but in life,” said Paul Palian, director of Media and Public Relations. “I think that it’s becoming increasingly important to enhance Northern Illinois University’s reputation as an educational destination of choice, especially for academically talented students.”