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Faculty Senate meets

President presents update on search for new provost

University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis kicked off the Faculty Senate meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, with an update on the search for a new provost. Assanis said the University plans to fill the open position before the start of the 2018-19 school year.

He highlighted the importance of transparency in the process of selecting a candidate and emphasized four key components: the search process itself, the composition of the committee, confidentiality and outcome.

“I believe the search committee will play a critical role in finding the new provost,” Assanis said, noting that every effort was made to consult widely with the campus community and to engage a committee that is representative of multiple disciplines and perspectives of the academic community.

The search committee is co-chaired by College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment Dean Estella Atekwana and College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean John Pelesko, professor of mathematical sciences. The provost’s search committee held two forums last month to gather input from the campus community on which qualities are most important to them in a chief academic officer.

Based on input from the campus constituencies, the search committee is currently developing the position profile and plans to post the job before the winter holiday break.  The search will remain open for candidates to apply through the end of February. The committee plans to screen applications in early March, and then invite candidates to participate in an initial round of interviews at an off-campus location.

Assanis addressed the need for confidentiality in the interview process, noting that, in searches for provost, confidentiality is often critical in order to build the strongest possible pool of candidates. He explained that highly qualified prospects may not want their interest in the job search to be made public. At the same time, he noted that he appreciates the need for a broader vetting of the outcome of the search process by representative stakeholders outside the search committee.  Assanis invited the faculty to advise and comment on the search plan, asking that suggestions be submitted over the week following the senate meeting.

Concurrent to the search for a new provost, Assanis noted that the University will conduct a search for a new dean of the College of Engineering.  Current Dean Babatunde Ogunnaike has graciously agreed to continue to serve in this capacity for the College of Engineering until a successor is named; he will then return to faculty. Assanis plans to select the new provost before the College of Engineering dean, so the new provost can weigh in on the dean selection.

On Friday, Dec. 8, Assanis and Interim Provost Robin Morgan sent an email to the campus community announcing the members of the dean of the College of Engineering Search Committee, which will hold a campus forum open to all students, faculty and staff at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Room 106 of the Center for Composite Materials. That committee is co-chaired by Thomas Epps, Jr., the Thomas and Kipp Gutshall Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Cathy Wu, the Unidel Edward G. Jefferson Chair in Engineering and Computer Science.

After the remarks from Assanis, Morgan updated the Faculty Senate on the cluster hiring process and reminded them of the Dec. 18 deadline for executive summary proposals. Full proposals will be due on April 2, and Morgan also told the Senate that faculty members are encouraged to share ideas with each other related to the cluster hire process through the Office of the Provost website.

Additionally, Morgan let the Senate know about a $2.5 million grant from the Unidel Foundation for graduate student education, and said she would have more information later about applications for the 2018-19 academic year.

Faculty Senate President Martha Buell gave a reminder about the Delaware First Campaign and said faculty and staff are invited to offer their feedback on the Concur procurement system that will soon be brought online.

Buell also said there is still work to be done following the release of the report of the Provost’s Commission on Tenure-Track Faculty. She encouraged input on work such as the mission statement, policies and procedures for faculty support and development and criteria and process for promotion and tenure for tenure-track faculty.

“We definitely would like to keep this report moving forward,” she said.

In addition, Buell announced a new award for research, scholarship and the creative arts and asked the Senate to consider eligible colleagues. The deadline for nominations is March 1.

The Senate had one piece of new business, which was to consider a revision to the university’s Non-Discrimination Policy. After a lengthy discussion, the Senate voted to hold an open hearing on the issue in February with plans to vote on it at the March meeting.

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