The provost’s role is a part of life at AU likely to go under some students’ radar, and the position of senior vice provost may be even less familiar.
But AU’s Feb. 20 announcement that current Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs Haig Mardirosian will leave the university June 30, and the decision to name current dean College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kay Mussell to the position, may remind students of a provost’s role on campus.
Mardirosian’s duties range from overseeing AU’s entire faculty to putting the university’s new strategic plan into action on campus. He has organized the Career Center, AU Abroad and the Honors Program since 2001. After 36 years at AU as a professor, General Education director, associate dean and vice provost, Mardirosian will resign to become the founding dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Tampa.
“If I was to tell you what a typical day was, I would have difficulty doing so. It’s so varied, and so chaotic, that there’s no pattern,” he said. “I don’t come to work looking for stuff to do. It finds me.”
Mussell, who has been CAS dean since 1999, accepted the offer to become the future interim senior vice provost despite her previously announced plans to retire and take a sabbatical, according to an e-mail from Provost Scott Bass. An interim provost takes over when there is not enough time for a search committee to find a replacement, such as when someone resigns, according to Mussell.
“At some point I will take my sabbatical,” she said. “We were going to Ireland. But, Ireland will be there.”
The job description will change quite a bit starting this summer, when Mussell assumes Mardirosian’s position. She will not be responsible for commanding graduate student programs or undergraduate academic programs, which Mardirosian oversaw.
Instead, two additional vice provosts will handle graduate studies and research and undergraduate studies respectively, Mardirosian said.
Mussell will work with the new vice provosts to implement the new strategic plan, hire and train new faculty and generally enhance undergraduate and graduate education.
“I have been with the university for a number of years now, and the two new people will be from outside the university,” she said. “So I hope one of the things I can contribute is introducing them to the university and to the faculty and staff they’ll be working with.”
The position of senior vice provost is also linked to another administrative position - dean of academic affairs.
The dean of academic affairs must be an insider to the organization, Mardirosian said. The dean is responsible for all 653 faculty members and the workings of the university.
During his time as senior vice provost, Mardirosian worked on the design and programming of the Katzen Arts Center and the Greenberg Theatre.
“The idea of both Greenberg and Katzen came up before you got here, but I was on the planning committee for both of those spaces and I spent a lot of time with the architects, with my colleagues, and the leadership of the university,” he said. “I’m delighted with the result. I’m excited of the idea of building up the programming to be equivalent to the facilities.”
Mardirosian started working at AU as an adjunct music professor in 1976, and continued to teach even after he took over his current position. He said it made him a better musician to work with students in a collegial environment. He still plays the organ and records CDs - including two in the past year.
“The things that really float my boat here have been interactions with students and faculty,” Mardirosian said. “I mean, that’s why I came here. I came here as a musician, who not only practiced what he did musically but meant to share that in a collaborative environment with students.”