Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Search continues for AU’s next provost

Committee has narrowed down candidates to four

Search continues for AU’s next provost

The hiring process for AU’s next chief academic officer continued through the summer and into the first weeks of the new semester, according to the University’s official committee charged with conducting the search.

The University has been searching for a new provost since the spring semester after former provost, Scott Bass, stepped down from the position in June. Both the search committee and an outside firm have been working to find a qualified and exemplary leader for the University.

The provost for the university handles the budget and the implementation of a new plan centered around inclusiveness, as well as overseeing all academic affairs. The search committee is headed by Jeff Rutenbeck, dean of the School of Communication, and Christine Chin, dean of School of International Service. Other campus leaders and the outside firm, Spencer Stuart, are engaged in the process.

Rutenbeck, co-chair of the committee, said they are looking for someone who is effective, a good listener and a good communicator, both intrapersonally and institutionally.

“We want somebody who has a lot of administrative experience, who is really good in dealing with complex situations,” Rutenbeck said.

The committee also wants a provost who will support and push forward with the University’s plans for diversity and inclusion.

“We want someone who is very skilled and experienced with inclusive excellence and someone who really understands how to drive that work forward,” Rutenbeck said. “It is such a priority here and it has to stay front and center.”

Valentina Fernández, the president of Student Government, believes that this issue of inclusiveness in academic affairs should be one that the future provost prioritizes.

“There’s no secret that there are criticisms of our curriculum in certain capacities and the lack of diversity in our faculty and our faculty that is tenured,” Fernández said. “Those are all things that the provost is in control of. As a student, that is my main area of concern.”

However, there is also some criticism of the search process. Though there is a graduate student on the search committee, Fernández said she was “slightly disappointed” when she saw the membership of the committee because there was no undergraduate representation.

Fernández said she remains committed to expressing her concerns and staying engaged with the search committee as much as she can.

“All I can do right now is be really engaged in any student sessions that happen and make sure that I am trying to get as many students out there as well to ask the right questions because it does directly impact students,” she said.

Rutenbeck said mostly students from Student Government went to recent listening sessions with the search committee, citing that the timing of the sessions was not best for students. On the front of finding the perfect candidate, he said the most challenging part is creating awareness of the position and institution.

Rutenbeck found optimism in this challenge, though, because of the search firm’s and committee’s abilities.

In an Oct. 3 email memo to the AU community, Rutenbeck and Chin wrote that the search committee has finished the “airport interview” stage with 12 candidates and has narrowed down the selection to four final candidates.

“We are very excited about the progress we’ve made so far, and we look forward to bringing this search to the best possible conclusion,” Rutenbeck and Chin said in the memo.

kcarolan@theeagleonline.com


Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.