Wanted: New provost for UMB

Natalia Cooper

A search for a new provost at UMass Boston is under way. The provost is second in command after the chancellor and is the person primarily responsible for the academic life of the university. The provost is the chief academic officer of the university. The position entails a wide range of responsibilities including oversight of all academic programs involving instruction, research and outreach, assessment, information technology, and advising the chancellor on matters relating to overall planning and allocation of resources.

There are six candidates being interviewed for the position at UMass. The specialties of those under consideration are varied, and range everywhere from economics to music to government.

Students have been enlisted to assist in the interviewing process. In a letter to students, Monica McAlpine, director of the university Honors Program suggested that students who meet with the interviewees “should offer the candidates some sense of what their experience has been like here at UMass, what they value about the University, what their hopes are for the campus.” After these interviews, evaluation forms will be provided allowing students to voice their opinions on the potential provosts.

On each interview date, the interviewee will attend an open meeting with faculty and staff from 2:30 to 3:30, and afterward will have a chance to meet with students from 3:45 to 4:30. A ring binder containing the resumes of all the candidates is available for consultation in the offices of the deans and vice chancellors.

The schedule of interviews began on February 25, with Arthur MacEwan, who now serves as interim provost. MacEwan has served in that position since Chancellor Jo Ann Gora appointed him in the fall of 2001. He replaced Dr. Charles Cnudde, who resigned in August, 2001. MacEwan has been a faculty member at UMass since 1975. He has worn many hats at the university during his 27 years here. He has served as chair of the economics department twice and has been very active in the Faculty Staff Union. Before joining the UMB staff, MacEwan was a faculty member, research associate, and visiting scholar at Harvard University. MacEwan received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and went on from there to receive a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

The second candidate, Cynthia S. Hirtzel, was interviewed on Wednesday, February 27. Hirtzel currently serves as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She serves as the interim dean for that university’s School of Business and Economics, and is also a professor of physics. She has worked at Temple University as an affiliated professor of women’s studies. She served as a full professor of civil and environmental engineering and served as dean of the College of Engineering at that institution. She has also been on the faculty of Syracuse University and Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute. Hirtzel received her associates’ in business from Washington University and later received her master’s in science and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Hirtzel was also a visiting scholar at the latter institution.

Over the next few weeks, the remaining four candidates will be interviewed for this position.

Paul J. Fonteyn comes to us from the west coast, where he currently works at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He is the dean of Graduate Studies, associate vice president for research and sponsored programs and a professor of biology at SFSU. He has also taught biology at Southwest Texas State University, where he was associate vice president for research and sponsored programs and director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. He earned his bachelor’s of science from University of San Francisco and later received both a master’s and Ph.D in science from The University of California at Santa Barbara.

From further down the east coast comes Walter Harris, Jr., who serves as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and professor of music at North Carolina Central University. He has also held a number of positions at Arizona State University (ASU) including vice provost for Academic Affairs. He held the positions of associate, acting, and assistant dean, at different points in his career. He was also a professor in the College of Fine Arts at ASU. He also served as the director for the Division of Arts and Humanities and the chair of the department of art and music at Knoxville College. He graduated from Knoxville College with a bachelor’s degree in science and went on to receive his master’s in music and Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

Nancy J. Usher has spent the entirety of her career at the same institution. She has held a number of positions at the University of New Mexico (UNM) including her current titles of associate provost for Academic Affairs and professor of music. In the past she has worked at the University College within UNM as the dean and the associate dean. In UNM’s arts and music areas she has worked as the director of the Center for the Arts in Society and the chairperson of the department of music. She received her education in New York, first at the University of Rochester where she received a bachelor’s degree in music, and later at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and her Ph.D. from New York University.

Kent John Chabotar, is the vice president for Finance and Administration, treasurer, and senior lecturer on government and legal studies at Bowdoin College. He’s served on the faculty at Harvard University, as a lecturer in the Graduate College of Education and at Michigan State University, as an associate professor in political science. He was also an associate professor of management at UMass Boston. Chabotar has a bachelor’s of arts degree from Saint Francis University and an M.P.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.