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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Provost role key, misunderstood

Published: January 28, 2011
Section: Editorials

The provost search committee has already received many nominations for potential replacements for Marty Krauss, who currently holds the position. The provost is one of the most influential and important people on campus. Charged with shaping the university’s academics, choosing a new provost is as important as picking a new president.

But you wouldn’t know that from the way students are talking-or not talking-about this decision. Because students, quite frankly, are apathetic.

This apathy can by attributed, for the large part, due to the confusion many students have about what exactly a provost is. This ignorance is unacceptable, and students must educate themselves about the position so they can be adequately engaged in the provost-picking process.

However, as important as it is for students to educate themselves, the committee members, and future provost, must meet them halfway.

Because the position of provost is as important as that of a president, the committee members should be treating this decision with the same care for student input as they did when choosing new President Fred Lawrence last year. Town halls and discussions about what we as a community value in academics, and thus in a provost, should be held in order to ensure that this is a community decision. If students are unaware as to the importance of this position, the committee, which has only one student member, should make an effort to educate them, not use student ignorance as an excuse for a lack of transparency.

Even after the new executive is selected, we urge the future provost to make their presence known around campus and to be involved in campus life. Members of the provost search committee lamented in this week’s issue of The Hoot that “too many people just don’t know who Provost Krauss is and what she’s done for this community.” We contend that it is the provost’s job to meet and convene with students to the extent that the student body is familiar with not only the provost’s job description, but also their name and their face.

When it comes to a university, the quality of Brandeis’ academics is our most important value. We cannot allow student ignorance or a lack of administrative involvement to come in the way of ensuring that our university remains at the top of its game.