Search for UB’s Next Provost Continues

Provost

Junho Lee /// The Spectrum

Arjang A. Assad, dean of the UB School of Management, is one of the four finalists in the search for UB’s next provost. He spoke to faculty, staff, and students at a public forum on Tuesday.

UB Professor Arjang A. Assad is one of four finalists for the university’s next provost, and he is the only internal candidate remaining.

On Tuesday, UB held a forum for the public to meet and discuss topics with Assad. He is the current dean of UB’s School of Management, having been named in 2008 after serving as a professor at the University of Maryland for 34 years.

Assad believes there is a chance to make a difference as provost through the UB 2020 plan.

“The provost is the person who implements and executes the vision set by the president of the university,” Assad said. “Some people might think [the UB 2020 plan is] too rigid. I don’t. I think having committed to that plan, it has some freedom for the provost and the president to work together to tighten things and to fine-tune things. They haven’t squeezed all the creativity out of the system.”

Assad believes the size of faculty and staff needs to increase to serve students at UB as tuition increases. He believes students expect more with the rise in prices, yet UB has been cutting budgets for the past two or three years. The Finish in Four program is one that he believes to be a step in the right direction for the university.

“Finish in Four is not just about the guarantee, but it will hopefully be the mechanism through which we will end up doing the things that are the right things to be doing by our students,” Assad said. “Students shouldn’t be shut out of sections so they can’t graduate.”

Though the forum was a general meeting to answer questions the public had for Assad, David Mark, a professor from the geography department, has hopes for whoever is the future provost.

“I’m hoping that over the next five years, we’ll have some expansion,” Mark said. “He seems to be very supportive of interdisciplinary [cooperation], and geography already has a joint program with the management school for international trade, and we work with people in the engineering and the medical school and in public health, so I think that’ll be encouraged.”

Erik Seeman, director of UB’s Humanities Institute, hopes Assad understands the needs of the humanities departments. He thought that the meeting was good for a general question-and-answer session.

“I thought it was very helpful,” Seeman said. “It was very good to hear his views on a wide range of important topics.”

Although Assad hopes to improve the university as a whole, he holds a soft spot in his heart for the Honors College and hopes the university takes pride in the motivated, talented students that are a part of it.

“As the chief academic officer, the provost always has to have the eye on the prize,” Assad said. “Our mission is education, and to provide an overall education to the students at UB to the best of our ability. That’s the driving force.”

On Friday, Professor Charles F. Zukoski, chair of biomedical and chemical engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and another candidate for the position, had his own open forum. Kimberly Walitzer, UB’s deputy director of the research institute on addictions, attended the meeting.

“I thought [Zukoski] was very well-spoken. He talked about his vision for the university and the position of provost,”Walitzer said. “I think the best candidate will do the best job.”

By LISA EPSTEIN