BY: ZSHEKINAH COLLIER
American University is on the search for its next provost. Current provost, Scott Bass, announced in March he will step down after holding the position for ten years and will transition in to a faculty appointment in the School of Public Affairs.
AU students are used to receiving emails from the provost, but they do more than just that. The provost plays an integral role in the university by serving as chief academic affairs officer. Scott Bass leads all of AU's colleges and schools, the University Library, financial aid, enrollment management, faculty recruitment and all other academic affairs.
Students on campus often feel disconnected from administrative decisions, but here are three reasons why you should care about who AU's next provost is.
Oversees faculty hiring and student enrollment
Over the last ten years, Provost Bass has overseen the hiring of more than 200 faculty members and has worked to create a more diverse student body. AU's population of students of color is small, but faculty of color are even more underrepresented. During town halls and roundtables, students of color have made it clear they want to see more professors in front of the class that looks like them. If we use our voices and tell the administration what we want in a provost, then we can work to get someone that is dedicated to hiring more professors of color.
In charge of academic curriculum and programs
American has a variety of classes and nationally-recognized areas of study. However, there are still some areas that people are interested in that AU does not offer. For example, faculty and students fought to get an African American and African diaspora studies program, which was introduced fall 2017. Provost Bass has helped create an initiative called AU 2030 that will introduce new academic areas, such as behavioral neuroscience, cities and environmental sustainability, Latin American and Latino studies, game design and persuasive play, and more. As students, we can advocate for a provost that will continue to listen to students and faculty about which degree programs AU needs.
Allocates funds for financial aid
Throughout his ten years, Provost Bass has invested in need-based financial aid for students.
We all know how expensive it is to get a degree, and the cost of college is a barrier for many students. The average college graduate walks the stage with $37,172 in student loan debt, CNBC reported. But, that number jumps to $43,725 for black gradsâ€”an increase of nearly 18 percent, according to data from the Urban Institute. We need to make sure our next provost is dedicated to making education affordable and will continue to allocate enough money for financial aid awards.
President Sylvia Burwell, Vice President of Campus Life Dr. Fanta Aw and university leaders want students' input in creating a position description for AU's next provost. There will be an open forum on Monday, Apr. 16 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Constitution rooms 2 -3 for students to provide their view on the best provost for AU. Let's take this opportunity to express our ideas and opinions on AU's academic leaders.