Provost search in the works

By James Green

NIU is preparing its search for a provost for NIU President Doug Baker’s administration.

The previous provost, Ray Alden, was appointed to the newly created position of vice president for International Affairs. Until a permanent candidate can be found, Lisa Freeman, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies and biology professor, has been appointed as the interim provost by Baker.

The provost is a high academic administrative position. The provost’s responsibilities entail curriculum and academic policies, and the position is involved with overseeing tenure decisions, general education reform, the first-year experience and honors programs.

Freeman said an example of the provost’s duties would be looking at how UNIV 101 and English composition can be used to communicate with students.

“I will sometimes hear from students about experiences they’re having or suggestions they have for how NIU can improve,” Freeman said. “I meet with deans and the vice provost regularly to talk about everything from space and classroom assignments to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and how our programs are getting reviewed.”

Some students don’t know what the provost does for the school or what the position is. Senior accountancy major Jesse Danek said students don’t hear much about administrative personnel.

“You don’t really hear anything about stuff like the provost in the media, so how would you know?” Danek said.

Freeman acknowledges not many community members at NIU, faculty and students alike, are fully aware of the provost’s responsibilities.

She said the provost can seem “invisible” when they’re doing a good job, as that means the school’s policies and procedures are running smoothly.

Still, Freeman believes students can benefit from being familiar with their administration.

“Knowing who the provost is allows students to have an impact on what curriculum look like and make sure they have the kind of internships and learning opportunities they deserve,” Freeman said. “It lets them tell us if things aren’t working, because students are the most important people on this campus, and we need to value them and listen to them.”