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Provost Thomas Burns office hours open to all

Provost Dr. Thomas Burns is offering open office hours for students, faculty and staff to talk about the university.

“I’d love to hear things about new ideas or things that they would like to see the university do, how the university can support students in different ways. Anything that is interesting really has a venue for conversation,” said Burns.

Office hours became available after an email was sent out by the Provost Office on Sept. 3. Burns informed campus he would be available to speak about “thoughts, concerns, ideas and hopes” involving campus without the stress of finding an open time-slot to schedule a meeting.

The open office hours were created after Burns read through evaluations faculty and staff administered to grade his role as provost. One of the recurring comments was to have a time where students, faculty and staff could come to his office and know he was available to talk, said Burns.

“It’s really meant to provide people who have a desire or need or interest about an issue sort of lower the barrier and make it easier,” he said.

Since the open office hours have started, there have been a variety of topics discussed during the meetings, including different ways for faculty and staff to branch out within the university, tenure and academics, he said.

Most of the topics have come from faculty and staff while only one student has come to speak with Burns.

“It could be that they could that students think it’s intimidating to talk to the provost, or they don’t know what the provost does so ‘why would I go talk to him, I don’t know what he does’,” he said.

Although people are coming up with innovative ways to fix problems, Burns said he may not always be the right person to go to.

“It’s not going to be very often that I can say ‘oh, yes, I can fix that’ because that’s not realistic, but I can often say here are the three people you can talk to or here is what you might want to do and point them in the right direction,” he said.

Either way, Burns is open to talking to anyone who wants to meet with him as well as attending student organizations to answer questions and talk about new ideas for campus.

“I know there is always going to be problems, and what many people might say is ‘well, the only reason to come is to complain about it,’ but I’d like to believe that more of the conversation could be about innovation and exciting ideas and about doing something different,” he said.

To contact and make an appointment for the open office hours time slot, email or call Kim Underwood at or call 615-460-6400. The available times are 15-minute increments between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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