Provost Search Forums Solicit Input from Community

GW students, faculty and staff shared priorities at listening sessions led by search committee and executive placement firm AGB Search.

From left: Christopher Cahill, Rod McDavis and AGB Search Consultant Garry Owens lead a listening session.
From left: Christopher Cahill, Rod McDavis and AGB Search Consultant Garry Owens lead a listening session for GW community members. (William Atkins/GW Today)
May 13, 2019

The George Washington University held a series of listening sessions during the first two weeks of May to provide input into the search and selection of the university’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. During these four forums, members of the community shared priorities and concerns with members of the Provost Search Committee and with representatives from AGB Search, the executive placement firm that will help guide the selection process.

Input from the listening sessions will be used to shape the “leadership profile” used during the recruitment phase, said Rod McDavis, managing principal at AGB. Dr. McDavis and colleagues facilitated the sessions alongside search committee chair Christopher Cahill, professor of chemistry and international affairs.

That feedback also will be used to shape the search process itself. After a suggestion at the first session that a staff member be added to the search committee, the committee and search firm will recommend such an addition.

During the sessions, Dr. Cahill and Dr. McDavis also laid out a tentative timeline for the provost search. At present, committee members plan to lay out the position profile and advertise for candidates through the summer. Preliminary interviews should be held in late August. The provost would be named in the fall and ideally begin work no later than January 2020.

The provost oversees all academic matters—teaching, learning, research and scholarship—across GW's 10 schools and colleges. Also included in the provost's purview are issues of student life on campus, international programs, graduate enrollment and institutional assessment.

The forums were heavily attended, although several students brought up the difficulty of attending sessions during finals week. At least half a dozen members of the search committee attended each session, with an average of several dozen attendees present at each.

Students, faculty and staff shared several common areas of interest and concern during the four sessions:

  • The new provost should be attuned to issues of diversity, inclusion and community. Several attendees stressed the need to promote voices from underrepresented groups and to improve issues like food insecurity on campus.
  • The new provost should be committed to building bridges between departments, disciplines and schools at GW. Increased interdisciplinary research would be one form of that commitment; another would be close involvement with university financial executives and input into budgetary decisions.
  • Attendees hoped the new provost would be willing to listen to all constituents, take in evidence-based feedback and adapt accordingly.

Provost Forrest Maltzman announced in April his plans to step down from the position and return to the faculty. He will continue to serve as provost until a successor is in place.

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Provost Search Committee Formed

April 26, 2019

Professor Christopher Cahill will chair the 18-member group to identify next chief academic officer.