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UNF goes without a permanent “middle man” for another year

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Dr. Earl Traynham has assumed the position of UNF's provost despite his active retirement. Photo courtesy of unf.edu
Dr. Earl Traynham has assumed the position of UNF’s provost despite his active retirement. Photo courtesy of unf.edu

Since May 2013, the position of UNF’s provost has been filled by an interim replacement while a search committee projected a new replacement to be hired in May 2014. Now that date is coming to a close and the search has been extended for another year.

When Mark Workman, UNF’s provost since 2006, stepped down, Dr. Earle Traynham came out of retirement to assume the responsibility at President John Delaney’s request, Traynham said.

The provost is the vice president of Academic Affairs who acts as liaison between UNF’s multiple colleges and the President’s Office. A provost is responsible for managing the funds for each educational department at UNF and coordinating with the deans of each college, Traynham said.

Basically, the provost is a middle man between the President’s Office and the academic faculty, which alleviates Delaney’s stress of having to deal with every issue in the university, Traynham said.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which UNF has to appeal the accreditation of its academic efficiency to, is deemed to occur this year. Part of the reason why Traynham’s interim was extended is to act as UNF’s representative during the meeting.

“Originally when the President talked to me, he talked in terms of 12-15 months. The idea was that the search would begin in the Fall of 2013 for a permanent provost,” Traynham said.

Traynham agreed to stay on so that he could complete his design of allocating resources to UNF’s departments. Each college was compared against itself to discover the most effective way to provide resources to them, Traynham said.

A search committee has been formed to find a new acting provost but kept Traynham on for another year because he was effective at his job, Vice President and Chief of Staff, Dr. Thomas Serwatka said. The committee consists of 17 members deriving from a mix of administrative faculty, staff, and a member of the student body. Nine are from UNF’s faculty, consisting of deans and teachers. Seven are deans and members of UNF’s administrative staff. Student Government President Carlo Fassi represents the student opinion, President Delaney said in an email.

Specific characteristics which would deem an applicant appealing are being kept quiet by the committee. The qualifications of the applicant are preferably someone who has worked in academics for five years and has knowledge of how to coordinate with the multiple educational departments in a university, Serwatka said.

The position has not been posted on unfjobs.org, the university’s online job application site. One of the main concerns the committee has is that they need a candidate who is convincing through their own merit, not through a list of qualities that they believe the committee is looking for, Serwatka said.

“We are coming up with a draft of what we’re going to put out, but it’s not going to have a full listing of all the characteristics we think this person should have,” Serwatka said.

The search committee also plans to make the candidates’ letters and applications of the open to the public, as well as the committee’s responses, Serwatka said.

“When we judge these people, we want you to see what characteristics we judged them high on, and what characteristics we had questions about,” Serwatka said.

The provost has to be able to secure the resources necessary for the educational departments to be successful, Traynham said.

While hiring internally might produce someone who is familiar with UNF’s academic system, the committee strives to bring in someone who can introduce new ideas and progress the school as it evolves, Serwatka said.

Serwatka also revealed that the interviews will be open to the public, where students can sit through the process and ask the committee questions at the end.

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