The Cal Poly Consultative Search Committee kicked off its provost candidate forum Tuesday morning by introducing the first of four finalists for the position: Cheryl Schrader, the associate vice president of research at Boise State University.
Schrader spoke about herself and fielded questions from a group of mostly faculty and staff in the Advanced Technology Lab building from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Rachel Fernflores, chair of the Academic Senate and the Consultative Search Committee was tasked with recommending provost candidates to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong. Fernflores said though Armstrong will make the final decision on the hiring of a new provost, student input at the forum is still desired. According to Fernflores, though, very few students attended this first forum.
“I think a lot of students don’t know what a provost is,” Fernflores said.
Nevertheless, Fernflores said Schrader centered her presentation around student success.
“(Schrader) thinks our students come in competent, and one of (the faculty’s) main jobs is (to ensure) that they become confident,” Fernflores said.
Fernflores also said Schrader already possesses the confidence she hopes to instill in Cal Poly students.
“I think she’s competent, confident and very knowledgeable,” Fernflores said. “She really has a good feel for the breath of the university.”
Other faculty members vouched for Schrader’s ability to work at a polytechnic university. Graphic communications department chair Harvey Levenson said Schrader demonstrated a strong understanding of the inner workings of Cal Poly.
“(Schrader) understood the concept of what comprehensive polytechnic means and spent a lot of time on that (during her talk),” Levenson said. “It seems like she did her research.”
Associate dean of the college of liberal arts Debra Valencia-Laver was also satisfied with Schrader’s forum, and said she came away particularly happy.
“I asked her a question about the role of the college of liberal arts, and I was very pleased with her answer,” Valencia-Laver said. “She talked about the idea that liberal arts is an important part of student experience here, (and that) it helps students make decisions in how they impact human beings.”
After hearing Schrader speak, Valencia-Laver said she is “guardedly optimistic.”
“If the other candidates show some of the same strengths she has, then we will have some very good candidates for an effective provost,” Valencia-Laver said.
More cautious about her optimism than Valenica-Laver, Associated Students, Inc. president Kiyana Tabrizi said she did not want to evaluate Schrader until she meets all the candidates.
“(Schrader) is definitely a strong candidate, and that’s why the (Consultative Search Committee) decided to bring her in,” Tabrizi said. “She has a lot of experience, and she based her forum on the president’s strategic plan.”
Prior to being named associate vice president at Boise State, Schrader served as dean of the college of engineering from 2003 to 2011. She has been in academia since 1984.
Fellow candidates for the provost vacancy will visit campus in the next two weeks.
Students interested in the provost candidates and search are encouraged to attend the upcoming forums, each being held in the Advanced Technology Lab building on the second day of the candidates’ visits.
The next forum, on Sept. 30, will introduce Andrew Grosovsky, University of Massachusetts Dean of Science and Mathematics, followed by University of Utah Dean of Architecture and Planning Brenda Scheer, on Oct. 4 and University of Wisconsin, La Crosse provost and vice president for academic affairs Kathleen Finken.