Longtime provost Mickey McDonald will be leaving his position at Kalamazoo College in order to assume the role of president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), a consortium of 13 liberal arts colleges in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. McDonald will be officially leaving at the end of June, and in the meantime associate provost Dr. Laura Furge is preparing to take on the role of interim provost on July 1.
According to a letter from President Gonzalez, McDonald oversaw the hiring of one third of K’s current tenure-track faculty and is responsible for “increasing faculty of color from approximately 15 percent to 25 percent, and women faculty from approximately 45 percent to 55 percent.” McDonald was also involved in the creation of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership and in the implementation of updated graduation requirements and curricular innovations. President Gonzalez said that he will miss McDonald’s “sharp mind, insightful knowledge of the College and of higher education, unflappable personality, good humor and friendship.” McDonald will keep some ties to Kalamazoo College, however, through his role as president of the GLCA — to which K belongs — and though his position as co-coordinator of K’s strategic planning initiative.
With Dr. Furge leaving her position as associate provost for the 2018-19 academic year, a faculty member will take on the role of associate provost while Dr. Furge serves as the interim provost. Over the course of the next year, the College will hire an outside search firm that will oversee the hiring process for the new provost. Dr. Furge says that there are several reasons that the College relies on an outside firm to do this task. When filling such a high-level position, the college conducts a national search with an initial applicant pool of around 100 candidates.
Since “many potential applicants would not want their current home institutions/departments to be aware that they were considering leaving,” the search firm is able to ensure confidentiality. They are also able to handle the complex logistics of scheduling the initial Skype interviews and managing applicant files. Additionally, the search firm offers a vast network of contacts that deepens the talent and diversity of the applicant pool.
Once the list has been narrowed to 8-12 candidates, they will be flown out for brief in person interviews with the search committee. Of those candidates, Dr. Furge says the committee will “select 3-4 finalists for on-campus, public interviews. In total, the process of finding and hiring a new provost should take around six months.”
Dr. Furge said that she would not be surprised if many students don’t exactly know what the provost does. In fact, she admits that “I know I didn’t when I was an undergraduate — and my first-year advisor was one of the associate provosts!” According to Dr. Furge, “the provost works to support faculty in the academic programs of the college — from classes to co-curricular activities — all of which are student-centered, mission-driven activities.” Additionally, the provost “supports departmental faculty searches and helps departments to bring talented new faculty to our community of learners.” Finally, the provost’s office helps link empower the creativity of the faculty with outside resources, such as Mellon grants.
During the transition year, Dr. Furge says she intends to listen, to be fair in balancing the needs and expectations of various stakeholders, and to be authentic in my interactions with others.”