First of three candidates for provost visits WKU

Emily DeLetter

In preparation for current Provost David Lee’s change of position, a candidate to fill the provost position met with WKU faculty, staff and students Monday.

Jeffery Osgood, current senior vice provost of West Chester University in Pennsylvania, presented his plans and ideas in Grise Hall. Osgood is one of three finalists being considered for the position.

Osgood, who graduated from Hopkinsville High School and holds a master’s degree in public administration from WKU, said that his path wasn’t entirely conventional.

“My educational path wasn’t direct, but I finished strong,” Osgood said. “WKU means quite a deal to me.”

Presenting to the audience, Osgood showed his main goals for WKU if he was to be selected as the next provost and vice president for academic affairs. These included developing a strong mission for WKU, an emphasis on diversity and inclusion and a strong liberal arts foundation.

By respecting shared governance, being stewards of peace and building a community of educators, Osgood said WKU could successfully integrate the model of a student-centered institution

“I know there is a strong focus on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education and career preparation in the commonwealth,” Osgood said. “But a foundation in liberal arts creates resilient lifelong learners.”

He cited the World Economic Forum, which stated that 65 percent of students entering elementary school today will be in an occupation that doesn’t exist yet.

“I want to ensure WKU students are employable,” Osgood said.

After his presentation, members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions.

Helen Sterk, head of department of communication, told Osgood she was concerned about the depth of his experience. While at West Chester University, Osgood has served as the vice provost, dean of graduate studies, director of the Center for Social and Economic Policy Research. He has also worked as a professor of public policy and administration.

“I’ve been in the fortunate position to receive pretty intense experience in a short amount of time,” he said.

Another audience member said she wanted to know how Osgood would face WKU’s current budget deficit. WKU currently has a deficit of at least $15 million, with the chance for it to grow as large as $40 million, and has made the first round of budget cuts and job layoffs based on recommendations from the Budget Council.

Kristin Wilson, an associate professor in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said she wanted to know what cuts would look like, not additions.

Osgood responded by saying he had a “commitment to transparency”.

“A cut looks like we would come to the table together and agree on the metrics we were using,” he said. “The more shared interest groups we involve, the better the outcome is going to be.”

The importance of international enrollment and education was also brought up by Andrea Cheney, assistant director of the Office of International Programs. Cheney asked about the role Osgood could see global learning playing in WKU’s future.

“I’m displeased that international enrollment is seen from a revenue generating standpoint by many universities,” Osgood said. “Ultimately, I believe international enrollment is about diversifying experiences and preparing students for a global society.”

The names of the other two candidates have not yet been made public. The candidates’ information will be made public 24 hours before their visit to WKU, according to the webpage for Academic Affairs.

Each candidate will spend the day meeting with various campus groups as well as participating in an open forum. The two other open forums are scheduled for Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. in Grise Hall 235 and Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in Gary Ransdell Hall 1074.

News reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @Emily DeLetter.