Following the resignation of Provost Donald E. Heller, the University is in search of a permanent replacement. More than anything, we as the Foghorn staff expect the University to learn from the missteps that occurred during Heller’s tenure — his resignation means nothing if it’s not accompanied by a drastic change in University culture.
We hope for a leader with a clear vision for the University — or at least the ability to help University leadership develop and relay a vision for the next decade. There have consistently been two USFs: the USF of administrators and its marketing persona, and the USF of the student body, the faculty, the staff, etc.
The administrative, corporate USF has next to no connection with the real USF community. Corporately, USF emphasizes athletics, donations, and developing a national reputation for the school. However, the USF we know is one that has a vibrant student body and passionate faculty, but is weighed down by the perceived disconnect between the administrators in Rossi Wing and the rest of us.
The University needs someone who will pivot their efforts toward something that will genuinely benefit our community. They need to focus on students’ needs and priorities, such as student housing, and think about these issues as they emerge — not after they are already a problem.
It is essential that the new provost is transparent and acts as an inclusive and unambiguous liaison between the president and other entities on campus — we think that openness and clear communication is a much-needed quality in our next provost.
Further, we believe that the next provost should make themselves available to all and should have open conversations with all campus groups to understand and address their needs. Whether listening to funding requests from faculty or student tuition concerns, the new provost should not avoid these issues and rather lead by example by addressing them with respect and care.
They should also be open to accepting and reflecting upon criticism. While semiannual town halls look great on paper, hardly any meaningful change ever comes out of them. We hope our new provost genuinely listens to us and is conscious of the needs of the community they serve and not play the game of campus politics.
We are hoping for a provost who uses social media respectfully and responsibly to further promote the University’s ethos of “cura personalis.”
We sincerely hope the new provost is a forward-thinker with the sense to return to USF’s core values rather than playing catch-up to schools who are decades ahead of us institutionally.