Search begins for new provost
October 20, 2008 8:44 PM
The search is under way for a new provost to fill John Gemello’s shoes after his retirement this June.
SF State has set up an official provost search Web site and posted advertisements detailing the position description and application information in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week. President Robert Corrigan officially announced the search to SF State faculty and staff via e-mail last Thursday.
“Filling Provost Gemello’s shoes is a formidable task,” Corrigan said in the e-mail. “I urge you to call our search to the attention of colleagues across the nation and urge them to nominate outstanding candidates.”
A 17-member search committee was established to evaluate nominations and eventually select the best candidate. Once chosen, the new provost will officially take the position in August 2009, in time for the beginning of the fall semester.
The committee, which met for the first time on Oct. 10, consists of professors, deans and chairpersons from the different university departments, administrative staff members, and the president of the Associated Students, Inc.
Search committee chairman Joel Kassiola said that faculty members in the committee were chosen by the Academic Senate through an administrative search committee process. About 250 faculty members nominated themselves and gathered votes from fellow faculty members. The final committee members were chosen by Corrigan, Gemello and the Academic Senate.
ASI President Natalie Franklin was chosen so that students can have a voice in the selection process, Kassiola said.
“She can articulate the concerns and interests of student groups,” the committee chair said. “I am a big fan of participation and will maximize the involvement of the many segments of this campus.”
Committee members said that they will be sending periodic progress reports to the campus community to ensure everyone is updated on developments of the search.
The committee is also enlisting the help of executive search firm principal Maria Perez of Perez-Arton Consultants, Inc. The firm has done six high-level position searches for SF State, including the 1998 provost search that brought Gemello’s predecessor, Thomas La Belle, to the school.
“[The firm] is really well-connected with administrators in other schools who might not see our ads or may not think of SF State,” Kassiola said. “They will play a role in generating as many good candidates for the job as possible.”
Kassiola stressed the importance of finding the right person for the position.
“The provost makes the most important academic decisions on campus,” Kassiola said. “The job description is immense.”
The new provost will have “administrative, programmatic and fiscal responsibility over all academic programs” and acts as the university’s second-in-command to the president, according to the position description posted on the Web site. SF State’s nine college deans and university librarian will report directly to the provost.
Candidates are required to have earned a doctorate degree or its equivalent, a record of achievement as a university instructor, and the necessary qualifications for a tenured professor in an academic department. They also need to demonstrate success as a higher education administrator and and the ability to effectively work with diverse communities, among others.
Search committee member and public administration professor Sheldon Gen said that additionally, he is looking for “a person who can take SF State to its next period in history.”
“I think financial skills will be vital,” Gen said. “Not only in being able to judiciously budget limited funds among all the services the university provides, but also in being able to creatively raise funds from public and private sources. These skills are becoming increasingly vital to this university.”
Key moments of the search will include the compilation of a list of 10 semifinalists in mid-December, and the narrowing down to four or five final candidates by January. These finalists will be visiting the campus in February or March 2009 to meet and interact with students, faculty and staff, according to the committee’s first progress report.
The stated deadline for nominations will be Dec. 1, but the Web site also said that applications will be accepted until the position is filled. More information can be found at http://www.sfsu.edu/provostsearch/.
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