• Lillie Burke

Belmont searches for associate provost and dean of students for 2014

A national search for an associate provost and dean of students began in June, after Andrew Johnston, Ph.D., transitioned from associate provost and dean of students to a faculty position in July.

Johnston, who served as dean of students for 14 years and as associate provost for seven years, will be coordinating and teaching courses for Belmont’s honors leadership studies program.

Becky Spurlock, Ph.D., is serving as interim associate provost and dean of students in the meantime, but will return to her role as associate dean of students once the position is filled.

“We’d like to have the person on campus by Jan. 1,” Belmont Provost Thomas Burns, Ph.D, said.

More than 30 applications were submitted for this position from individuals all over the country, according to Burns.

A search committee, made up of members of leadership areas at Belmont who regularly work with the person in the associate provost and dean of students role, including president of the Student Government Association, Chase Geiser, reviewed applications over the summer and selected nine applicants for phone interviews. Of those nine individuals, the committee then chose three candidates for on-campus interviews.

The position’s main purpose is to serve as the chief student affairs officer for the university.

“We have certain things that we do and certain characteristics that are important, certain values that are essential to us, and so we want to make sure that we’re going to bring in somebody who’s going to be able to be successful in our environment, to be able to feel comfortable and welcome here, but also help us to grow,” Burns said.

According to the listing provided by the provost’s office, the associate provost and dean of students is tasked with fostering and sustaining a student-centered, living-learning environment which focuses on developing and expanding opportunities, partnerships and relationships between and among students, faculty and staff.

“Belmont’s not a shrinking institution, we’re certainly a growing institution, and so we want to bring in somebody who’ll be able to help us expand our horizons and think more about who we can be, based on best practices in student affairs, based on opportunities they see in creating a special place for our students,” Burns said.

The associate provost and dean of students oversees the student affairs division and directly supervises its personnel and programs.

And the associate provost and dean of students will also serve as a member of the Provost Council and advise the Provost on issues related to student life, student success, and student leadership development.

“You want somebody who’s going to come in and has the ability to relate to students and faculty and staff well, is a good listener, patient, thoughtful, well spoken – all of these are important characteristics because they live the life of serving students,” Burns said.

Candidates are required to have a minimum of 10 years’ experience in student affairs with increasingly responsible positions in student affairs at the college/university level.

“The university seeks a person of Christian faith and commitment to the educational mission of the university,” according to the listing.

“We always start with making sure that we’re trying to find somebody who will be able to come in and serve our mission well, and that’s paramount among our issues,” Burns said.

Each candidate will spend a day and a half on campus, meeting with the search committee, Provost Council, senior leadership, faculty, staff and students, as well as meeting with other campus staff who work closely with the associate provost and dean of students.

Each candidate’s’ agenda while on campus includes two open sessions: one with faculty and staff and one with students.

Sessions will include a presentation from each candidate addressing questions provided by the search committee, as well as time for questions.

The search committee asked candidates to comment on separate questions for the faculty and staff sessions and the student sessions.

For the faculty and staff sessions, candidates will briefly speak about their opinions on the value of integration between curricular and co-curricular learning, as well as provide examples of how they have facilitated curricular and co-curricular engagement to enhance student experience.

Candidates will also describe what they believe are three trends or best practices in student affairs during the student sessions.

Comments from students, staff and faculty and feedback from individual and group interviews will all be considered as the search committee and administration try to get a sense of who will fit the most needs of the campus the best, Burns said.

After the sessions, students will be able to make comments online through MyBelmont, according to Burns.

The candidates’ résumés can be accessed through MyBelmont by clicking on the Associate Provost/Dean of Students Candidate Visits banner at the top of the page.

A schedule of each candidates’ visit can be viewed under the campus announcements of MyBelmont.

Philip Riordan, Ph.D., arrives on campus today. He currently serves as vice president for student life at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

A student session with Riordan will be held tomorrow, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. in Beaman A&B, and a faculty and staff session will be held later that day at 2 p.m. in the Massey Business Center Boardroom.

The search committee will meet with Burns and President Bob Fisher, Ph.D., to further discuss each candidate once all three on-campus interviews are complete.

Burns will then meet with Fisher and make a recommendation about who to make an offer to for the position.

“The way I look at a position like the associate provost and dean of students is that they’re the person who connects the people that they work with in student affairs with the rest of the campus community,” Burns said. “It’s a big job, no question about it.”

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