President’s Update – December 21, 2004
Dear Members of the University Community,
As you know, the search is under way to fill the new position of University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. I anticipate a successful search with the appointment of the University Provost effective July 1, 2005. I share with you the goal of creating an organizational structure that places academics at the center of the decision-making process at FDU. The creation of a University Provost is a major step toward reinforcing this direction. The appointment of the University Provost also raises questions about the impact of this position upon other roles and reporting relationships within the University.
The purpose of this communication is to share with you several events that have led to the evolution of this position, provide a view of the transition to the new organizational structure, and address the role of the campus provosts as we go forward.
Evolution to University Provost
Over the past year, Executive Vice President Carl Viola and I have discussed my desire for a strong chief academic officer as part of the University leadership team. My original intent was to have an organizational structure that included both a chief academic officer and an executive vice president, using the skills of both individuals. During these conversations, Carl expressed a desire to move on to another phase of his life. After serving with distinction at the University for more than 14 years, he has decided to retire to spend more time with his family and pursue some long deferred activities.
As we discussed several options and plans, Carl agreed to remain as the executive vice president for a sufficient period of time to fully assist the University with a smooth and effective transition to the new organizational structure and complete several major projects in which he is currently involved. His last day as executive vice president will be January 31, 2006. He will then begin a well-deserved sabbatical that has been deferred since 1999.
The position of chief academic officer, therefore, evolved to the more comprehensive position of University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. The University Provost will report directly to me and serve as both the chief academic officer and the chief operating officer during my absence, allowing me to devote increasing time to external affairs, most importantly fundraising.
Carl Viola has my admiration and appreciation. He was one of the primary agents of confidence and architects of change during FDU’s most challenging days in the 1990s. He has served the University in four increasingly demanding and complex positions over the years. He has brought a much-needed arsenal of strategic skill, logical approach to problem solving and attention to detail in each of these positions. Fairleigh Dickinson is a better place because of his presence.
At an appropriate time we will gather, as a community, to celebrate Carl’s contributions and accomplishments.
The Transition Process and Organizational Structure
The initial period after the arrival of the University Provost will be a time of learning and integration for the successful candidate. Important processes and activities must continue without pause. For that reason, current nonacademic reporting lines will remain in place on July 1st. Over the course of subsequent months, the organization will change as the University Provost becomes more knowledgeable about FDU and our most important issues.
The following chart shows the current macro organizational structure, with direct reports to each vice president.
The following chart displays the structure on July 1, 2005.
During the 2005-06 academic year, we will transition to a new structure shown below.
While this is our current target structure, I want to emphasize that everything should not be cast in stone. We are prepared to be flexible. The new University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs must have a hand in the final configuration and significant influence on the best way to organize the delivery of academic services and programs.
The Board of Trustees supports this transition. I have also informed the board that I will use this time of transition to review the job responsibilities of a number of individuals and the overall needs of the University to be certain that we have the most effective organizational structure and reporting relationships.
Role of the Campus Provosts
There have been a number of questions about the function of the campus provosts under this new model. I thought it important to outline the primary responsibilities of the campus provosts — or whatever title we ultimately use — and my rationale for the changes that will take place.
The influence and role of the academic deans are strengthened by having them report directly to the University Provost. Their major responsibilities, however, will continue to be management and oversight of the individual colleges — not their campuses. As a result, there are important campus-based academic functions that would lay fallow without a strong, campus-based, dedicated academic view and leadership. Allow me to highlight just three of the reasons for maintaining the campus provost positions.
• Campus Strategic Plans
The Board of Trustees has directed that the individual campus strategic plans continue to be an integral element of University planning, based upon our mission and six strategic drivers. The entire campus community is involved in the planning process on each campus, and the results have been impressive. An empowered academic leader should facilitate the process and implementation of these plans. This is not the role of a University Provost, nor should it be delegated to a campus facilities manager. It requires a single individual charged with bringing an academic view to the plan.
• Campus Positioning and Student Recruitment
Three years ago we articulated a plan to differentiate the campuses. The plan allowed each campus community to develop its own mission, position and orientation. The Metropolitan Campus and the College at Florham identities were the direct result of that action. Bringing those identities to reality requires focused, skillful attention by an academic individual who understands campus goals, and who has the authority to influence and align all the participants and elements to a common purpose.
Successful campus differentiation is also intimately linked to the student recruitment process. There must be a single individual on each campus who gives attention and motivation, within the campus context, to recruiting and enrolling prospective students, in partnership with Enrollment Management.
• Campus-specific Functions
There are a number of activities or functions on each campus that do not naturally fall under the purview of an academic dean, but are critically important. Examples include such areas as student affairs, residence life, campus honors programs, athletics, advising and public safety.
While it could be argued that several of these areas are not an academic responsibility, most would agree that they are all important elements in the fabric of a campus community. Student affairs, athletics and all other functions should be viewed and driven by campus-based academic leadership.
I do not believe we can separate any of these areas from academic oversight. Again, they should not be delegated to a physical plant manager, yet are beyond the role of a college dean. Thus, I believe there is a critical need for the continuation of a strong academic campus-based leader. The Board of Trustees supports this view.
The campus provost structure provides strong campus-based leadership. I am pleased to report that both Ken Greene and Joe Kiernan have agreed to remain in their current positions through the evolution of this transition process.
The original search committee was created to seek and recommend candidates for the position of Chief Academic Officer/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. While the scope of the position has increased since the search committee was formed, I remain confident that the skill set of the individuals serving on the committee, supplemented by an expanded involvement of members of the University community in the search process, will enable us to select an individual who can meet and exceed the job responsibilities as they have evolved.
The committee has created a special Web site to ensure that the community is kept informed of the search process (http://www.fdu.edu/svpaa-up/index.html). I urge you to access that information on a regular basis to follow the progress of the search. I also encourage you to contact members of the search committee if you have any questions regarding the search as it progresses.
The current timeline anticipates that final candidates will be on campus for interviews during the month of March. The committee will ensure that all constituencies have an opportunity to meet with the top candidates and to provide feedback to the committee. For example, the Board of Trustees has formed an ad hoc committee to interview the finalists and provide feedback to both me and the search committee.
Like you, I look forward to the conclusion of this critically important search and the further development of this exceptional University.