Second of three provost candidates visits WKU

Natasha Breu

The second candidate for WKU’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs presented his plan for WKU’s future in an open forum in Grise Hall on today at 1 p.m.

Keith Hargrove, who is the current dean of the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University, has a background in engineering and a distinguished career in teaching, research and service, said Cheryl Davis, associate provost for research and creativity. Davis also described him as as “an avid researcher and scholar.”

Hargrove addressed the audience by saying his past positions have prepared him for the role of provost for over 20 years. Hargrove said the role of provost is to support academic programs, outstanding faculty and to bring in new faculty and resources.

“It’s a tough time at WKU, but an upside is that it’s a chance for opportunity,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove described his plan for WKU as “student-centered but faculty focused.” He then went on to explain different aspects he wishes to implement or improve upon if he is selected as provost.

“I’ve been somewhat successful in every role that I’ve played to put together a blueprint,” he said.

Hargrove emphasized the importance of collaboration between different academic departments. He also highlighted his engagement in community by saying he started a charter school in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hargrove is also a supporter of study abroad and said he plans to lead a trip to Turkey in the future.

The leadership style needed as provost at WKU is described by Hargrove as “trans-relational,” focusing on the relationships formed with the people being led.

Hargrove’s strategic plan emphasized the five main points of focus on academic programs, student success, diversity and inclusion, research and budget efficiency.

His said his strategic plan also includes making sure students have three types of experiences at WKU: academic, professional and social.

At the end of Hargrove’s presentation, the floor was opened for audience members to ask questions.

Eric Reed, a professor in the history department, asked whether Hargrove had any experiences with saying “no” to his boss.

Hargrove responded by saying that once he was asked by his president to come up with a plan to raise academic standards, and the outcome was different that what his president originally wanted, so he had to justify himself.

James Barker, an assistant professor of philosophy and religion, asked Hargrove how he would allocate money due to concern from recent budget cuts.

Hargrove said he will rely on his strategic plan and the needs of students.

Alexander Poole, a professor in the English department, asked whether Hargrove would be supportive of liberal arts programs due to his background in engineering.

Hargrove said he recognized the contributions of liberal arts programs to other fields such as nursing and different sciences.

“I do see Academic Affairs continuing to support that,” he said.

The forum ended with an audience member questioning whether Hargrove would stay committed to WKU as he would be entering his position during a “budget crisis.”

“It’s an opportunity to redefine who we are and how we educate our students,” Hargrove said.

There is another open forum scheduled to take place in Gary Ransdell Hall room 1074 at 1 p.m. for the third provost candidate, Terry Ballman, on Thursday.

News reporter Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]