Parks’ forum last of three for new DELO vice president

Caitlin Carter

The WKU community had the opportunity on Friday to meet the final candidate for the new position of associate vice president for the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach at an open forum.

Dennis “Skip” Parks, assistant vice president for Community and University Engagement at California Polytechnic State University, addressed an audience regarding his candidacy in Garrett Conference Center.


The other candidates for the position, Beth Laves, interim associate vice president for DELO, and Mark Brinkley, executive director of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education at Mississippi State University, have already held their respective forums.

During Friday’s forum, Parks presented his views on what he will accomplish if selected as vice president.

Parks said he will adhere to WKU’s vision and philosophy as outlined in the strategic plan.

“Vision and philosophy go hand-in-hand,” Parks said. “You must act on what you strategize for.”

If chosen, Parks said he will get to know everyone surrounding him at WKU as soon as he enters the position. He said communicating with those around him will give him better insight into how DELO operates on a daily basis, and will ultimately show him areas that should be improved in the long run.

To get to this point, a search committee composed of faculty across different disciplines at WKU was responsible for choosing the finalists, said Mitzi Groom, search committee member and head of the Music Department.

“The committee is a good mix of people,” Groom said. “We’ve all had good interaction with DELO, though.”

Search Committee member LaDonna Hunton said WKU began taking applications for the position in October.

The three finalists were chosen out of a pool of more than 30 applicants based on certain criteria set by the University, said Hunton, also manager of Academic Resources.

“This is experience in continuing education, a minimum degree requirement of a master’s, among other things,” Hunton said. “We also tailored the application to find someone with a business background.”

After all of the applications were in, the search committee chose the finalists by delving deep into each of the candidate’s backgrounds, she said.

Every candidate for an open position at the level of director or higher must have the opportunity to hold an open forum and receive feedback, search committee chair Dennis George said.

George, also University College dean, said the feedback can come from faculty, staff, students, administrators or community members.

The position, last held by the now-retired Donald Swoboda, was previously titled DELO dean.

“It’s a new, higher position,” Hunton said. “We’re really pleased with the quality of the applicants, especially since it’s the first time this position is at the level of vice president.”

The candidate who fills the position will be determined in the following month by Provost Gordon Emslie, Groom said.

While Emslie takes feedback into consideration, the decision is “ultimately his,” Groom said.