STORY BY JAKE BULLINGTON
In the months-long search for Drake’s new provost, an internal search committee has narrowed a group of 76 applicants to its current pool of just three.
“We’ve had a rich experience across all the candidates,” said Venessa Macro, chief administration officer. “(We’re) very happy with the quality of the candidates.”
President Marty Martin opted for an internal search committee. This is the first time in over a decade that the university has used an internal committee to find a new provost. This is opposed to the usual private search firm, according to Macro.
While this created additional work for the committee, it was budget-friendly for the university, saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
The provost is the chief academic officer for the university, whom the deans of each college or school report to. The provost also makes long-term strategic decisions regarding academics and is second to the president.
Serving as the interim provost during the search is Joe Lenz. Lenz previously served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before filling the temporary spot in Martin’s administration.
“That role is critically important because (it is) providing a vision and cohesiveness for those schools and colleges … bringing them all together so that we’re on the same page, so that we’re really one university and one institution,” Macro said.
Although Macro did not serve on the committee, she served as the HR law consultant. She brought experience with previous provost searches to the committee.
“I was the director of human resources for 13 years before I came over to administration, so I’ve been on several searches through the years,” Macro said. “This year we decided to use a little bit different model.”
One member of the search committee is Student Body President Kevin Maisto, acting as the sole student representative directly involved in the search process.
“It’s been humbling, and it’s been exhilarating,” Maisto said. “Humbling because there are a lot of times that the committee will look to me and ask, ‘How will students feel about this?’ and to have to weigh the opinions of 5,000 students is a lot of pressure.”
There was another student selected from the law school to serve alongside Maisto on the committee, but she dropped out due to a scheduling conflict.
One of the reasons this committee is so important is that the provost acts as a “support system” for the president, Maisto said.
Historically, a high rate of provosts have left the position.
“The big push for this provost too is a little bit more longevity,” Maisto said. “One thing that we’re really looking for, is someone who is going to take their vision, and align it with Drake’s vision, and have a long-term impact on the campus. Since a lot of what the provost does is so strategic and long-term in nature, having turnover of three or four years, provost to provost, doesn’t lend well to a long strategic vision.”
The committee is deliberating on how each of the three candidates meet the criteria put forth by Martin. They also are considering feedback from campus surveys sent via email.
“Since significant survey data had been acquired, we have been looking at the data, which has been really fascinating,” Maisto said.
The search committee will begin to send its feedback to Martin beginning Thursday. This can be anywhere from recommending a candidate or outlining each of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.
The decision that Martin makes in the next week or two is expected to be made public before winter break.
Regardless of which of the three candidates is selected, the decision will have a lasting impact on Drake.
“It’s really important that we hire someone who has a long-term impact,” Maisto said. “That’s why this search is so important. This individual will have significant impact on the direction that the university takes. Academic programs that get started, faculty that we hire, initiatives that we start, all these sorts of things are directly influenced by the provost.”