Candidates for new WKU position awaiting results

Natalie Hayden

The search for WKU’s new associate provost for Graduate and Advanced Studies/associate vice president for Research is almost at an end.

The three candidates have all spoken at open forums and have met individually with Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Gordon Baylis, vice president for Research, along with other groups such as the graduate council and the research council.

The position is an expansion of the current dean of Graduate Studies that WKU currently has to include deeper integration into research.

Emslie said the administration chose not to specifically define the position because they want to see what the candidates will do with it.

Merrall Price, associate dean of the University College and a member of the search committee, said the upper administration worked with the committee to create the position announcement and description.

According to the description, the duties are to develop and sustain a vigorous, diversity-focused graduate student recruitment program, enhance integration of research/scholarly inquiry into the undergraduate curriculum and coordinate student-initiated research and creative activity, among other things.

Kinchel Doerner, current interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research at WKU, spoke at the first forum on Feb. 28. He said he would utilize his position to give more resources to students.

“I would like to see my office take more of a lead in helping students write,” he said. “Not only to write more correctly in terms of grammar and structure but motivating the student to get started early.”

The second candidate, Jennifer Keane-Dawes, spoke on March 1. She’s the current dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Keane-Dawes said that the position’s main role is to be an advocate for the students.

“The graduate school exists to serve as a bridge, to represent the interests of graduate students. Somebody has to speak up,” she said.

Bruce Landman, the current interim and founding dean of Mathematics and Science at the University of West Georgia, spoke on March 14. He said that he wants to see deeper integration between research and graduate studies.

“I believe that all graduate education, strong undergraduate research and excellent faculty research are all mutually beneficial,” he said. “Each one, I think, supports the other two.”

Each candidate seems to fit well for what the administration is looking for, said San Diego graduate student Margaret Stringer, who is on the search committee for the position.

Stringer said that as a graduate student, the main thing she looks for in a candidate is the ability to listen to what students want, communicate with them and be their voice.

Price said the position does not have a specific announcement date, but the expected start date is July 1, 2012.