It looks like the search for Seton Hall’s new provost is finally coming to an end.
Over the course of the past two weeks, the final four candidates have visited the South Orange campus in order to “meet individually with a wide variety of constituencies.” Each of the visits consisted of an Open Forum to meet with students and a faculty meeting.
The first of the candidates, Dr. Bruce Pitman, visited campus on Jan. 21 and 22. Pitman, a mathematics professor from the University of Buffalo, graduated from Duke with a Ph.D in mathematics. He also holds an M.S. in mathematics from Duke and an undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics from Northwestern. In the past, he served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
After Pitman, Dr. Katia Passerini from St. John’s University, came to campus. The distinguished chair and dean of the Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, Passerini visited Seton Hall on Jan. 23 and 24. In addition to this title, she previously served as dean of the College of Professional Studies.
The third candidate, Dr. Yohuru Williams visited Seton Hall on Jan. 27 and 28. He received his Ph.D from Howard University, and for the past two and a half years, has served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, he is a tenured history professor.
Dr. Heidi Bostic, the fourth candidate, visited campus on Jan. 29 and 30. Bostic has served as Visiting Associate Provost for Special Projects at Furman University for the past year and a half. Previously, she served as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire.
Dr. Karen Boroff, the current interim provost of Seton Hall, has served in the position since October 2016. She took over the position after former-Provost Larry Robinson announced his retirement. The search for a properly appointed provost only recently began, however. In April of last year, the former Interim President, Dr. Mary Meehan, emailed the SHU community to inform everyone that a national search for Boroff’s replacement would begin.
Dr. Jonathan Farina, chair of the Search Committee for Provost and Executive Vice President, told The Setonian that in the fall, the search committee evaluated a “robust array” of applicants and interviewed a set of semifinalists in December. From that set, the four finalists were selected.
“We set the criteria based on the feedback we received from the September campus community meetings with our search consultants, Academic Search,” Farina said.
Farina said that the feedback the committee receives from faculty and students from the campus visits these past two weeks will help to inform their decision. Ultimately though, the decision is President Nyre’s.
“We are very pleased and excited about the unique potential of each of these experienced, transformational candidates,” Farina said. “Each has made substantive improvements in his or her prior leadership positions. We look forward to meeting and working with the next academic leader of Seton Hall at this pivotal time, as we formulate a new strategic plan.”
Bob Towey, a senior journalism and finance major double major said that whenever the CV of one of the finalists was emailed out, he looked it over. He says that he has no preference so far about which candidate he would like to serve as the next provost, but that he’s going to take the time over the next few weeks to read more about the candidates and their respective experience.
“I think the open community forums were a great way to increase engagement around the selection process and give the campus community the chance to hear from the candidates,” Towey said. “It could also be beneficial if the University hosted a town hall-type event with all of the candidates on one night to give students and staff the chance to ask questions about pressing issues on campus and see the differences between how each one would respond if named provost.”
Taina Vasquez, on the other hand, says that it doesn’t really matter to her who is named the next provost.
“I am graduating soon, and this does not affect me in any way,” Vasquez said. “I am not even sure what the provost does so I cannot really speak to what issues they should focus on because I don’t know what they can or cannot do.”
In general, though, Vasquez said, the University as a whole should focus on trying to better programs that are struggling with resources and try to improve them, such as the criminal justice program.
“I think that the search committee could make students more interested in the search if they show us what the candidates want to improve on as the provost,” she said.
Isabel Soisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on Twitter @IsabelSoisson.