By Allie Robinson
All three provost candidates visited campus in the last week, meeting with college officials and speaking in open forums with the campus community.
The three were chosen from an applicant pool of 65, and Rusty Necessary, vice chancellor for enrollment management and the chair of the provost search committee, said that the three candidates were strong applicants.
“I really appreciate that so many of our faculty, staff, and students turned out to meet each candidate and welcome them to UVa-Wise,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Highland Cavalier. “I think the interview schedule we crafted, and particularly the open forum, helped each candidate to better understand what makes UVa-Wise such a distinctive and special place.”
J. Sanders “Sandy” Hughenin, the vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of history at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, visited Friday afternoon, and spoke with students, faculty, staff and members of the community in the Rhododendron Room of the Slemp Student Center.
Abiodun Goke-Pariola, the provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor of English at Otterbein College in Ohio, visited early this week and spoke in an open forum on Monday.
The last candidate, Sandra M. “Sandi” Lemoine, dean of the College of Human Development and professor of kinesiology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, visited Wednesday.
Each person who attended the forums or interacted with the candidates during their visit here was handed a comment sheet to fill out. The sheets are due back to Rue Gembach, and Necessary said that the committee hopes to pull information from the comment sheets to inform their final decision.
Hughenin’s current institution is similar to UVa-Wise in size and in focus. He said that liberal arts schools “like ours can serve students in ways that are unique.”
“Our focus is the focus that was the focus of higher education for the first 900 years,” he said. “We produce students who are creative thinkers, innovative thinkers.”
Both Hughenin and Lemoine said they enjoyed meeting people on campus. “This is a very special school, to have such an engaging and qualified faculty,” Hughenin said. “Most schools say they are unique, but this school really is. It seems like a great family.”
Lemoine said that she had a wonderful experience at the college.
“Everyone was hospitable and asked good questions,” she said. “I enjoyed interacting with the faculty and staff, and I feel that [UVa-Wise’s] connection to UVa makes it something extra special.”
Goke-Pariola said that he is interested in working here because of the college’s mission.
“What this college does has really helped transform the lives of people,” he said. “What happens here is more important than what happens at a lot of bigger schools. [UVa-Wise] is breaking a cycle [of not going to college] and opening doors. It is important to be proud of
He said the college has a sense of stewardship, and feels like a part of the community.
“It is not just a community that looks inward,” he said.
“This will give [UVa-Wise] national visibility. I see an institution that is poised to make that leap without losing its soul.”
Necessary said the committee might hire the new provost as early as July 1.