Search for Provost Nearing Conclusion

Caitlin Husted, Senior Editor

The search for the next Provost that began with 61 applicants and narrowed down to seven extensive interviews has now narrowed to two candidates.

Dr. Carey Adams, current Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Armstrong Atlantic University and Dr. Jeffrey Aper, current Provost at Blackburn College are the two candidates under strong consideration for the position at Millikin.

A Provost, or Chief Academic Officer, is largely in charge of the academic workings of the university. The provost works with enrollment, student success and faculty development. They have to have knowledge of what’s going on in the outside world and translate it to how it fits Millikin’s needs.

The committee dedicated to searching for the next Provost consisted of 12 individuals, including Deborah Slayton, Jared Rixstine and Dr. Michael O’Conner. These individuals assisted in researching and interviewing the candidates extensively, and ultimately present the best candidates they can find to President White.

Deborah Slayton gave her opinion on where the candidate stepping into the position should stand.

“Right now it’s a competitive higher education market,” Slayton said. “We need someone who needs little orientation – we don’t need to be the one to build them into the position. Both candidates are strong and have strong accreditation experience.”

For Jared Rixstine, the student representative of the Search Committee, it was about finding someone who can make Millikin the best that it can be.

“The number one thing for me was finding a strong leader with experience who would fit into Millikin’s culture and make the changes that are necessary,” Rixstine said. “The Chief Academic Officer (CAO) is literally in charge of campus. If it has to do with Academics, they’re involved.”

Dr. Michael O’Conner has a similar sentiment when it comes to the importance and purpose of the Provost position.

“It’s key, it’s essential,” Dr. O’Conner said. “The provost is the head of the academic unit, the faculty and students. You would think it’s about the faculty, but at the core it’s about the students and the curriculum at Millikin.”

The official recommendation will be sent to the President’s office on Mar. 28, and President White is ultimately responsible for selecting Millikin’s next Provost.

“The thing that’s important to remember is this is the President’s hire,” Slayton said. “He takes the best information, and he’s been completely supportive.”

Adams has held his current Provost and Vice President position with Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga. for just under two years, and previously served for five years as the Dean of College of Arts and Letters at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. His wide-ranged skill set and professional leadership roles resonated well with the Search Committee’s criteria.

“Dr. Carey Adams emerged as a candidate who is data-driven and innovative,” according to the committee’s report. “He demonstrated a commitment to the students, faculty, staff and the importance of diversity.”

Aper has been Provost for Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. for just under 12 years. He has also held a variety of other positions at schools across the nation including Associate Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies, Assistant Professor of Educational Administration and Higher Education, and Coordinator for Assessment.

“Dr. Jeffrey Aper emerged as a candidate who is astute in data analysis and has a history of innovation that has driven academic improvement in spite of budgetary constraints,” according to the committee’s report. “He has strong fiscal experience with oversight of diverse and non-academic areas.”

Before working in Higher Education, Aper taught sixth through eighth grade, and coached baseball, basketball, and soccer at the middle school level.

Both candidates have the potential to make a difference at Millikin. But they have a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders should they accept.

“The best thing is they help keep a balance between traditions of Millikin and their relevance in the world,” Slayton said. “And that’s got to be the most important thing they do.”