Provost candidate faces faculty forum

Kevin Kolus

Provost candidate Elizabeth Langland, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Purchase College, State University of New York, answered questions yesterday afternoon about issues including part-time non-tenure faculty, Africa as an impor

Credit: John Proppe

During the third open faculty forum in the search for senior vice president of academic affairs and provost, candidate Elizabeth Langland said she deserves the position because of her administrative history.

Langland, current provost of Purchase College in New York and former dean of the University of California’s Davis Campus Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, said she has done “just about everything” during her lifetime. The provost, or chief academic officer, is a position requiring broad academic knowledge.


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“In terms of professional accomplishments, I think I bring many,” she said. “I did develop the kind of scholarly level needed for a provost at Kent State.”

When asked what personal strengths she can bring to the position, Langland said hers is the devotion to staying objective.

“I can’t hold a grudge,” she said. “Why was that important then and now? Because if you do hold a grudge you are no longer objective. That I count as strength.

“I’m also very decisive and I like to get things done. At the end of the day, if I’ve done something that goes against advice, I’m able to go back and explain why.”

Faculty members asked Langland if she had any methods for reminding administrators that they were once faculty themselves, a pursuit she called challenging.

“I suppose there are some administrators who wish to forget they were faculty,” she said. “I would never … I cherish it.”

She said the best solution is to reinforce the university’s goal — the success of students — for which an administration exists.

Another issue the faculty wanted Langland’s opinion on was shared government, or the inclusion of faculty in administrative decisions.

“The real leadership has got to come from the faculty or it is not going to work,” she said. Langland said she has one lunch a month when all faculty at Purchase College are invited to speak about any issues that bother them.

What is worrying Kent State’s faculty is the possibility of changing the budget model to Responsibility Centered Management, and they wanted Langland’s insight.

RCM requires that each academic unit generates its own funds and pays percentages to units that do not generate funds, such as the KSU Library or Bursar’s Office. The library was brought into question by faculty as to how it would survive.

“It strikes at the heart at why some campuses have been reluctant to go toward RCM,” she said. “You have to figure out how you value the disciplines that are a university.”

The last question faculty asked was: What responsibility does a university have to solve social and political problems in the community? The faculty called Kent State a “corporate university” that focuses on customers (students and community) instead of its faculty and should have a responsibility for its surroundings.

Langland said she supports “service learning,” or placing students in the real world using the skills they learn in class to aid not only their own education, but the well-being of the community. She said universities have as much of a responsibility for the public as they do in helping students understand themselves as citizens.

Langland will be at an open forum with undergraduate students at 10:30 a.m. today in the Student Center Room 320 and graduate students at 11 a.m. in Room 310.

Contact academics reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].