After months-long search, University welcomes new provost
Daniel Myers says he is dedicated to improving faculty diversity and research
After several years as the provost at Marquette University, Daniel Myers has made the transition from a Golden Eagle to an AU Eagle.
And he’s already noticing the differences between campuses, especially when it comes to the University’s snow day policies.
“I lived a lot of my growing up years in upstate, way upstate New York, where you get a couple hundred inches of snow every year,” Myers said. “So the first day where I think we closed down early or something, I was like ‘What? I better get out of here.’”
In an interview with The Eagle in February, Myers spoke about his goals and ambitions for the University under his leadership as AU’s new provost.
Myers stepped into his new position on Jan. 15, replacing previous provost Scott Bass, who stepped down last summer. Mary Clark, the dean of academic affairs and senior vice provost, served as interim provost in the months between Bass’ departure and Myers’ start date.
“The things that this university is strong in are things that I’m really interested in,” he said. “I’m a social scientist. I’m a sociologist by training, political science undergrad, so some of those things, they’re really a big part of what happens here, so that was great.”
While he is excited about his new role at the University, Myers said that many students may be unaware of his duties and responsibilities. During move-in day at Marquette University, Myers said he went around the residence halls with a microphone and a camera and asked students simple questions. The responses he got from them were “crickets.”
“You know, blank stares, deer in the headlights, and it was hilarious,” he said.
Myers said that his role as provost is to be the person “in charge of everything academic at the University,” including getting reports from school deans, the registrar, financial aid office, admissions and other university offices.
In previous years, students and faculty have voiced concerns about lack of diversity among faculty members. As provost, Myers is the final university official to determine if a professor is granted tenure.
Under Bass, several female professors accused the provost of discriminating against them during the tenure process, The Eagle previously reported.
Former School of International Service professor Loubna Skalli-Hanna won an age discrimination lawsuit against the University late last year and was awarded $1,151,000 in economic damages and $175,000 in emotional distress damages, according to a press release by the law firm representing her, Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC.
Myers, who said he had no knowledge of the discrimination lawsuits, said he plans to address faculty diversity, an issue that he said is both important to him and has always been a part of his work at different universities. At Marquette, he oversaw the creation of a new LGBT resource center and a Race and Ethnic Studies program, The Eagle previously reported.
“I didn’t know anything about the second part, so we’ll have to skip that one,” Myers said during his interview with The Eagle, referring to discrimination complaints against the University. “I assume I’ll find out about it at some point.”
Diversifying faculty is no easy task, Myers said, especially when compared to increasing diversity within the student body.
“If you think about it, you can diversify the student body a lot faster because you replace the whole student body every four years,” he said. “It takes 30 years to replace the whole faculty and so it’s a slow process, but that just means you have to attend to it all the more because if you take a year off or something, you really can slow yourself down.”
Over the past two years, AU has hired more faculty of color than in previous years, according to data provided by the University. Myers said there is still more work to be done.
“It’s something that we as a university always have to be attending to in a very careful and deliberate way about what we’re doing,” Myers said. “I know that’s happened here and there’s been some good progress in the last couple hiring cycles, but we’ll continue to work on that. It’ll be an important priority for us.”
Myers added that he is excited to work under President Sylvia Burwell and be part of the implementation of her strategic plan. Burwell recently released her five-year strategic plan, laying out the University’s efforts to improve faculty research and increasing revenue.
Despite having a long career in academia — Myers was a faculty member and provost at the University of Notre Dame before leaving for Marquette in 2015 — he said that no other position was more influential and helpful, experience-wise, than his time as a resident advisor during his undergraduate years at Ohio State University.
“I brought [my experience] with me all through my career as a real focus on not just what you do in the classroom, but all the other parts of student life that make for what the college experience really is,” Myers said.
This article originally appeared in The Eagle's March 2019 print edition.