Last November, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox, who has served as provost since 2008, announced that he was resigning as provost and returning to the faculty. WUSF's report noted several positive trends at USF occurring during his tenure while the Crow's Nest recounted his history as provost (see also the reports in The Oracle and The Tampa Bay Times).
So ... where do we go from here? We have a new president and, as The Crow's Nest observed, we will soon have a number of new senior administrators (and the list has grown since that article). We return to the points made in the 9 September 2021 Biweekly, the 1 October 2021 Extra, and the 21 October 2021 Biweekly - that hiring such a senior administrator entails a decision on where USF is going and is to go, and that that should be a decision made with substantial input from the faculty, the students, and the USF community.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon in EDU 161 on USF Tampa. On the agenda: counting the ballots and plans for the summer. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
This is the first chapter meeting of the summer. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, and there will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks and sweets. It will be hybrid, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
Every year, the National Association of Letter Carriers - a fellow union under the AFL-CIO umbrella - holds a food drive. But because of the pandemic, the drive was not conducted in 2020 or 2021, but with food prices squeezing the food banks, the need is as great as ever.
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Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
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G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown once claimed that, ``The masters of the modern world don’t matter. Even the real masters don’t matter much...,'' but, those who ``...stand up stark and dark like disregarded sign-posts, down all that smooth descending road ... Dean Swift and Dr. Johnson and old William Cobbett...'' do matter in what ultimately makes a difference to the world.
We see the truth of this in academia. Who was the provost (``vice chancellor'') of the University of Cambridge while Isaac Newton was the Lucasian Professor there? Who was the rector of the Albertus University of Königsberg while Immanuel Kant was Professor of Logic and Metaphysics there? Who was chancellor of the University of Oxford when J. R. R. Tolkien was the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon there?
Of course, university leaders of vision and ability (e.g. Wilhelm von Humboldt of the University of Berlin, Charles Eliot of Harvard University, and Booker Washington of the Tuskegee Institute) can make a difference - often by launching or raising an aspiring institution. It is the vision, the ability, and the hard work that makes the difference. Of course, rising institutions usually enjoy social and / or economic uplift, and as the late UFF USF Chapter President Mitch Silverman frequently observed, USF was the institution that "they couldn't keep down," which means that there are underlying forces in the Tampa Bay that an active and visionary provost could harness.
Wanted: a provost with vision, ability, and an unlimited supply of elbow grease. For an aspiring institution.
As she announced on April 18, on April 16, President Rhea Law charged a committee consisting of one trustee, one former trustee, ten administrators, and six faculty members to produce an unranked list of finalists for the position of provost, together with confidential recommendations on the candidates. She had already contracted with a headhunting firm, Storbeck Search, a "Diversified Search Group" whose recent placements include the president of Temple University, the president of Michigan State University, and the president of Haverford College.
On their website, Storbeck Search says that they start by listening, and on Wednesday, May 4, Managing Director Shelly Weiss Storbeck chaired an online meeting sponsored by the USF Faculty Senate on the search. Most of the 37+ attendees were USF faculty, and they had a lot to say to the search committee. Here are some of the main points made.
Perhaps we need a provost who is not interested in leading a generic institution with a generic array of (quantitative) goals, but one with its own history and mission to the community that supports it. One participant at the meeting mentioned the 2021 USF Presidential Search Brand Book (augmented by the USF Points of Pride), which mentioned some positive aspects of USF (e.g. in the past nine years, USF has risen in the US News & World Report rankings from #100 to #46, and USF was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2018 - both being recognition of USF's undergraduate program). The Book also enumerated "Opportunities and Challenges" like "Leveraging the unique attributes of each campus," "Enhancing USF's infrastructure," and "Recruiting and retaining USF's world class people" (emphasis added).
It would be interesting to know what the next provost thought about USF and the local business community's aspiration to make the I-4 corridor into a high-tech hub, USF's geographic position in a metropolis with seaport access to Latin America, and in general USF's position as a laboratory for addressing challenges facing Florida in the coming century.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, May 13, at 12:00, in EDU 161 on USF Tampa, or via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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