Attendance low at UA’s provost interviews

Kyle Dennan

Despite efforts of the provost search committee to include student input, University of Alabama students are disinterested in the process of selecting the next senior academic administrator at the Capstone.

“Each of the interview schedules includes meeting times with the leaders of student organizations,” Sara Barger, dean of the Capstone College of Nursing and the chair of the provost search committee, said. “You know how many students we had show up when we interviewed Dr. Francko? Zero.”

Dave Francko is the current dean of the Graduate School at the University and the only UA candidate for the provost position. Barger said student input is vital to the process of selecting a new provost, and she is concerned they might not be represented in the selection of whoever fills this important position.

“I would hate for the students to not have an opportunity to participate in the process. Every single person that has any contact with any of the candidates is asked to submit an evaluation form,” she said. “When the students don’t show up, basically their voice is lost, and it is an important voice to [the] search committee.”

She also said gathering student input was not the only reason it is important that leaders of student organizations attend scheduled events with the various candidates for provost – she wants the candidates to see the caliber of students at the University.

“I’m really proud of our students,” she said. “I think we have got some of the brightest, most articulate students anywhere, and it bothers me that candidates don’t have an opportunity to see that.”

Among those invited to meet with the provost candidates were members of the current Student Government Association, including President Jimmy Taylor.

Leela Foley, director of media relations for Taylor, said SGA did not have a presence at Dr. Francko’s interview due to a miscommunication during the administration transition following the recent SGA elections.

Foley said the SGA is working to address this oversight and will have a presence in the interviews of candidates visiting the University in the future.

“Fortunately, Dr. Frankco is an internal candidate, so we are setting up a meeting with him immediately and there will be SGA representatives attending the interviews of all future candidates,” she said. “We want to make sure student concerns are considered during this search.”

Students who are not in leadership positions will also have an opportunity to interact with provost candidates at presentations given by each of these candidates as part of the interview process.

In addition to Francko, the committee is considering three other candidates: Pam Whitten of Michigan State University, Gordon Emslie of Western Kentucky University, and Kimberly Espy of the University of Oregon. They will be presenting on April 19, 23 and 30, respectively.

Whitten’s presentation will take place in Room 309 of the Ferguson Center, and the others will present in the Heritage Room. Students are encouraged to attend.