Provost candidate discusses technology, Kent State’s future

Christina Stavale

ABBY FISHER | DAILY KENT STATER Provost candidate Walter Harris Jr., talks candidly at an open student forum.

Credit: Adam Griffiths

Kent State’s exciting present and future was the topic at hand as Walter Harris Jr., the fourth and final candidate for senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, spoke at an open forum for graduate and undergraduate students yesterday morning.

James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information, said low student turnout was probably due to the cold weather.

Although no students attended the forum, Harris, the current provost and vice president of academic affairs at Loyola University in New Orleans, offered his ideas for Kent State’s future.

“Kent State is at an intersection,” Harris said of his interest in the university.

He said this is an exciting time for Kent State, a place where he could offer his talents. His experience in higher education includes more than 35 years in private, public and highly selective institutions.

One of his goals for Kent State, Harris said, would be to strengthen the already strong programs at the university.

“In lifting those programs, we help the whole university,” he said.

Retention rates are another important item on Harris’ agenda. To improve this area of concern, he said he would ensure the university offers quality programs and academic support to students.

He emphasized the need for classroom activities to connect to students’ lives outside of school, ensuring a real-world education.

Harris said he feels another key factor in improving retention rates is establishing faculty and student connections. At other institutions where he has worked, he said, he created dormitory programs with formal and informal seminars based on a student’s major, and would like to bring such programs to Kent State.

Harris also discussed the need for technology that enhances the learning process. For example, he said he would not want a professor to require his or her students to have a computer just to take notes in class, when using a pen and paper would do the same job.

“We don’t want to get into the business of installing technology just to install technology,” he said.

Harris said he has established a close relationship with students at his previous institutions through having dinners with student organization leaders.

“I enjoy meeting with students,” he said.

As provost of Kent State, Harris said he would like to work with President Lester Lefton to understand his objectives and push the university forward.

Contact news correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].