The Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Search Advisory Committee held a town hall meeting Monday evening, seeking public input on the search process for the position, which oversees academic and budgetary affairs for the University of Michigan.

The position of interim provost is currently held by Public Policy Prof. Paul Courant, who assumed the position on Feb. 1st after former Provost Martha Pollack left the University on Jan. 31 to serve role as president of Cornell University starting April 17.

University President Mark Schlissel, who chairs the committee, said he hopes to fill the position by the beginning of the next academic year.

Aside from Schlissel, the committee consists of 10 professors and deans from several of the University’s 19 schools, as well as one student representative.

The town hall had an attendance of about 30 people, most of whom were faculty and staff, as well as the committee members themselves. The group articulated ideas about what qualities the next provost should have and the issues with which he or she should be most concerned.

Several attendees mentioned the importance of the provost’s understanding of research, including Vice President for Research Jack Hu, a committee member and professor of mechanical engineering, who said it was important to him that the future provost was someone who had done research and understood the complexities of the research enterprise.

LSA senior Aditi Rao raised the question of innovations in education, citing Caitlin Holman’s recent TedxUofM presentation about improvements that could be made in education.

“I know a few of you have mentioned the importance of research and that the provost has participated in research,” Rao said. “I think it would be interesting to also think about this provost participating in pedagogy research.”

Rao also raised the importance of a student perspective in the search for a provost, as did LSA senior David Schafer, president of Central Student Government.

“I was very uplifted to hear (the committee’s) commitment to ensure that students’ voices are heard, and that student concerns are weighed as part of this search process for the next provost,” Schafer said. “I encourage any and all students as best they can with the provost search advisory committee to ensure their voices are heard.” 

Schafer thanked Schlissel for the inclusion of Public Health student Abbas Alawieh in the committee and asked Alawieh how he see his role.

“I bring to the table, as a committee member, all of the experiences I have had as an undergraduate student, as a graduate student and on the Student Budget Advisory Committee,” Alawieh said. “I was a resident advisor. All of these things which are part of the Michigan experience are things I will be thinking about when I’m thinking about making recommendations.”

Committee members emphasized that ideas, recommendations and nominations could be sent to the email: provost.search.committee@umich.edu.

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