Students give feedback on search for new provost
At the SpeakSC forum Tuesday night in Ronald Tutor Campus Center, USC students voiced opinions about the search for the next new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and their vision for USC’s future. Vice Provost of Student Affairs Dr. Ainsely Carry, who presided over the meeting, said that student involvement is “critical” in selecting the next Provost.Looking ahead · Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry led Tuesday night’s SpeakSC forum to discuss the search for a new provost. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanThe provost is the second-ranking USC administrator under the president. The position oversees student affairs, research, libraries and health care. Eighteen schools report directly to the provost.Previously, the provost was chosen by the board of trustees or the president. This is the first time the student body has been included in the search process.“I’m really here to listen to you tonight,” Carry said.The forum opened with a question: “Five years from now, if we picked ‘the right’ provost, what would you want them to have accomplished?”Paige Brenner, co-director of USG’s Undergraduate Student Government’s Wellness Affairs, said she wants a provost who continues to support the initiatives of student government“We’re in positions for only one year, its easy to get into a mindset that you can’t get anything done,” Brenner said. “I’d like the provost to be an advocate for long-term as well as immediate action.”Carry responded, saying that the administration is making an effort to respond to students’ concerns in a timely manner.“We try to work as fast as we can on many initiatives, but some of them take time to get done,” Carry said. “The things we can move on immediately, we will.”Several students mentioned feeling “powerless” in implementing policies on campus, since important decisions are made without student involvement. Carry disagreed, saying this was a perception issue.“Students are very empowered here, though they’re not always aware of it,” Carry said.Carry cited several initiatives over the past year, such as gender neutral housing, sexual misconduct policies and extension of the add/drop date for fall 2015 as proof of effective collaboration between the administration and the student body.USG Vice President Rini Sampath suggested that increased communication between the new provost and students would help resolve feelings of disempowerment.“It would be great to see the provost being visible,” Sampath said.Others students expressed concern about how the appointment of the new provost will affect life on campus. Eric Miller, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said that though USC strives to improve academically, the new provost should also be cognizant of USC’s historic culture and school spirit.“There’s been a change to focusing just on academics … [but] Getting students excited about what’s going on outside the classroom is important,” Miller said.USG President Andrew Menard cautioned that in planning for USC’s future, the new provost should focus on students actually attending USC. Though many improvements are planned for the future, Menard stressed that current students also have pressing needs.“The dialogue should be less about prospective students and more about students right here right now,” Menard said.With respecting the needs of its current student body, Kaylee Ho, executive director for Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, said that she would like to see more emphasis on diversity and ethnic studies. Ho claimed that while USC’s high percentage of international students is used as a selling point for the university, this diversity is undervalued in practice.“We say we have a diverse campus, but students and faculty don’t always feel like they’re in an inclusive environment,” Ho said.Carry encouraged other organizations and student groups to reach out to him, and emphasized that the meeting was only the first stage of a continuing dialogue. In involving students in the decision-making process, USC administrators hope to create a model that other universities will follow.“What we’re doing is really cutting edge,” Carry said.