Provost forums shed light on three candidates

Staff Reports

With the provost search nearing a conclusion, the University hosted faculty and staff open forums with the final candidates over the past two weeks.

The three finalists included Catherine Koverola, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences at Lesley University; Jonathan Reed, interim provost at the University of La Verne; and Ramon Torrecilha, former provost and vice president of academic affairs at Cal State Dominguez Hills and current professor of sociology.

Koverola, the first candidate who visited the University, answered pressing questions at the faculty open forum Nov. 3.

“I would like to be a provost at an institution that shares my values,” Koverola said.

Faculty brought forward questions about faculty workload, shared governance and ULV’s distinction as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

“Faculty work really hard, and some work harder than others. Maybe some are more efficient,” Koverola said. “Let’s really be transparent. That’s one thing that I think about faculty workload.”

Koverola is an advocate for transparency in the University. She said she believes that trust is important and comes from successfully achieving some kind of dialogue.

Placido Gomez, visiting professor of law at the College of Law, asked if she could share a time when she had made a wrong decision and had to apologize.

Koverola shared three instances when she had made wrong decisions and had to make up for them including a time when she merged two departments to improve efficiency, implemented marketing approaches and established a research agenda that was too “grand.”

“I enjoyed talking to her,” Gomez said. “She was very open, very forthright and her humanness came through.”

Reed presented his case Nov. 5, defining his three-part mission for ULV: access, transformation and success.

“ULV provides broad access to students who are often excluded from higher education,” he said. “What we owe those students are transformative learning experiences.”

Transformative learning experiences, Reed said, means the University is student-centered.

“We are student-centered in the sense that through teachers, who are teacher-scholars, we provide them with the La Verne experience… so that they could go on and have success in life,” he said.

Reed’s definition of a “La Verne Experience” is making sure that faculty focus on pedagogies that help students be successful through engaged and community learning, theory to practice and learning that takes risks.

“The La Verne Experience through the scholar-teacher model is what can distinguish us and help us do better with the current students that we serve,” he said.

Reed said his vision for the University is to become a model for national education.

Torrecilha, the third candidate, visited campus Monday and Tuesday. He has more than a decade of university administration experience.

“It is important for a provost to find ways of engaging the academic community and the university community as a whole,” Torrecilha said.

Torrecilha has held other roles such as provost and executive vice president at Berkeley College in New York and vice president of planning, research and multicultural programs at Mills College. He served as program director at the Social Science Research Council and the American Sociological Association. Torrecilha comes from a diverse background; he was born in Brazil to a Puerto Rican father and Brazilian mother. He moved to the U.S. at 17.

“Access in education by itself is not enough,” Torrecilha said. “You have to think about systemic change that you have to work with departments within universities to change the culture in order to become an inclusive university with inclusive discipline.”

An important mission for a university is the core relationships between faculty and students.

“Maintaining collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs can take us in the right direction,” Torrecilha said. “But there is really nothing that can substitute the relationship you should develop with your students, one-to-one. You learn about the learning process in addition to the struggles and opportunities they face, and for a provost, that is invaluable.”

Kat Simonelli, Kristina Bugante and Jennifer Jackson contributed to this story.

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