University News

UCS assesses candidates for search committee

Ten students apply for spot on committee, chance to help select U.’s next provost

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, January 31, 2014

Following the announcement of Provost Mark Schlissel’s P’15 departure — effective July 1 — the Undergraduate Council of Students received 10 applications from students hoping to be the undergraduate representative on the committee to select his successor, UCS leaders said.

After Schlissel was named the next president of the University of Michigan last week, President Christina Paxson asked UCS leaders to help identify an undergraduate to serve on the provost search committee, said Todd Harris ’14.5, UCS president.

Of the 10 students who applied for a spot on the committee by the application deadline at noon on Wednesday the UCS executive board called back five applicants for interviews Thursday night, and it will recommend three finalists to Paxson today, Harris said.

“We got 10, and we were expecting around that many, especially due to the short timeline,” he said.

Maahika Srinivasan ’15, chair of the UCS Academic and Administrative Affairs committee, also expressed satisfaction with the number of applicants, adding that “everyone was a really impressive applicant.”

The applicant pool included a diverse swath of students, said Sam Gilman ’15, UCS vice president.  Students from every class year applied, as did one UCS general body member, Gilman said.

The group included “a range of applicants involved in different academic disciplines and concentrations — life sciences, humanities, social sciences — as well as different extracurricular activities on campus,” he said.

The interviews were “relatively brief, because we want to make sure that we can get through this process in time for the recommendations” today, Harris said. The interviews “just covered experience dealing with administration and the kinds of priorities that these students are looking for in the next provost,” he said.

Srinivasan said the interview process is meant to help engaging and charismatic candidates stand out.

“I’d say the one thing we’re looking for in these interviews is just to see where applicants shine off of paper,” Srinivasan said. “We’re looking for presence and an ability to represent student voice in a room of administrators and other people,” she said. The finalists UCS ultimately selects should be “able to represent that whole idea of a student voice,” she added.

During the interview process, the UCS executive board hopes to also identify students who are comfortable working alongside administrators, Gilman said. Ideal candidates should have experience interacting with high-level administrators, he said.

“We understand that the role of the provost is a unique and complex one on campus, and the idea is to find … candidates who have an understanding of the complexities of the role,” he said.

The Council will also consider each potential candidate’s ability to “speak to the different conversations that have been going on (throughout) campus around the strategic plan, around the University Resources Committee and different undergraduate priorities that have come up during the last semester,” he added.

After Harris and Gilman inform Paxson of their three recommendations today, she will narrow down the list to one student who will represent undergraduates on the committee.

“I imagine that she’ll be announcing the timeline of the process and the full membership of the committee in the coming weeks,” Harris said.