Interims planning future of University

In August, after a year of planning a reorganization of the Office of Academic Affairs, Provost Paula Short gave herself a deadline of the end of December to finalize all the new changes and appointments she was making. Almost a full semester later, she’s right on track.

“I’ve been working with the staff on all the organizational changes that needed to occur in (the Office of the Provost), and those are about to be finalized. And with the selection of the permanent folks in all these positions, we should be done by the end of the semester,” Short said. “That was my goal, and we are going to reach it.”

Most of the challenges have been in regard to personnel appointments. At the beginning of the semester, there were four vacant and four interim-filled positions in the Office. After appointing Earl Smith III to a two-year term as chief health officer and launching a national search for permanent administrators to replace the interims, Short expects to have only one vacancy — the associate provost of strategic enrollment planning — in the new year. Before break, she plans to appoint a chief arts officer and, most challenging, the vice provost of global strategies and studies.

“That (appointment) has been harder to fill in terms of finding the right person. But all the other positions will be filled,” Short said. “We’ll have permanent people, and we’ll want to have the arts position filled as well, and the reorganization will be complete by December.”

While Short is searching for permanent position holders, she said she’s relied on the interims to establish a precedent for these positions, as none of these jobs existed before the reorganization.

“These are sort of planning positions right now. We’re doing interims for (the chief health officer) and for the arts because we have just found that we’ve got to get people moving on those areas, and there’s not really a lot of time to do a national search,” Short said.

“We’ve got talent here on campus, so I’m gonna be looking for an interim chief arts officer and begin doing planning in that area.”

Smith has been chosen to be one of those planners as the chief health officer. He said Short has set some goals for him to accomplish during his next two years as interim.

“I have marching orders, and one of the key things is to develop a strategic plan for the University and what the University should do in terms of expanding health-related programs,” Smith said. “That’s probably the most important thing and why an interim is valuable to have, because that strategic plan will certainly provide direction for the permanent individual.”

Short takes pride in being able to give outstanding in-house individuals, like Smith, an opportunity to serve in these interim positions. Seeing as Short herself went from interim to permanent status, some may follow suit.

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