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Leadership: Lawrence outlines provost/SVP must-haves

Published: January 21, 2011
Section: Front Page


President Fred Lawrence announced qualifications he will consider in candidates for the new university provost and senior vice president for students and enrollment following the December final report by the Administration Structure Advisory Committee (ASAC). Before naming a senior vice president for students and enrollment, Lawrence and an ad-hoc search committee will recruit for the position of the newly elevated provost, who will now serve as the president’s second-in-command.

“The people who will do best here, and will be able to be in it for the long haul as we plan on doing, must necessarily see being involved in the Brandeis community as one of the benefits of the job,” Lawrence said. The president contrasted a merely efficient administrator with one who cannot only be an excellent steward of university imperatives, but also in touch with students and their concerns. “People think that hard work and fun are antithetical—my team has to know that they’re not,” he said.

“To work here … [the candidates] will have to love spending time with students,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he sees no reason to stop attending student basketball games, club events or even occasional evening student activities.

Lawrence plans to host a student DJ competition Saturday.

“I have no idea what it’ll consist of, but I’m going,” he said.

Lawrence said he admired the student-like participation of longtime Senior Vice President Jean Eddy, who ended her decade at Brandeis in September to take a job at the Rhode Island School of Design. Eddy, who former President Jehuda Reinharz once called “a fixture” at sporting events on campus, will be a model in the Lawrence administration as far as student interaction is concerned.

A notable difference in her successor, however, was indicated in the ASAC report, which called for some responsibilities of the student life job to be transferred to the provost, like Eddy’s former oversight of the registrar and control of academic services and counseling.

As Lawrence wrote in his e-mail last month releasing the committee’s report, much of what the report recommended was in line with other universities.

“The committee was more of a realignment if not wholesale change,” he said. “It strengthened the provost’s position [and brought] academic services and [grades] back to the academy.”

As for the Office of Students and Enrollment, “it will still maintain a strong student life position,” Lawrence said. “I believe we can strengthen the academy without appreciably weakening the student life [official].”

Lawrence said that he agreed with the committee’s report that a provost must be “the second-ranking member of the administration.” The committee cited both the academic services and registrar-related former responsibilities of the enrollment VP as a supporting argument for why the position of provost had to be redefined.

Faculty and mid- to upper-level administrators will soon begin narrowing down possible candidates and presenting them to Lawrence, who will first select a provost with whom he will consult when hiring a senior vice president.

“I want to have someone [in whom] I can have complete confidence sitting in as me,” Lawrence said. In his new administration, “the provost can now be a real number at this university too.”