Tech searches for new provost




HOUGHTON – After 25 years as an administrator, Michigan Technological University Provost Max Seel has announced he’s ready to return to the faculty.

“…I just know that it is time for me to step down,” Seel said. “It is time for someone else with fresh enthusiasm and excitement and fresh ideas.”

Seel will have spent six years in the Provost’s office in January.

Finding Seel’s replacement will not be a simple task. The job has been posted, the website for the search is up, and the selection committee is meeting, but the process probably won’t be complete for a while.

Wayne Pennington, chair of the Search Committee, said that, as of late last week, the search was at a bit of a quiet point.

“Right now we’re at a lull, because the ad is out there, people are sending notices to LISTSERVs, we’re getting the ad posted in places that you pay to post the ad, official places – The Chronicle of Higher Education, things like that,” Pennington said.

“And we hope that it will be spread widely by word of mouth, or by word of electron,” Sarah Green, Search Committee vice chair, said.

However, that lull won’t last for long.

“So we expect it to start getting busy for us again in another week or two, when people start to call with informal questions, they’re allowed to do that, and Sarah or I are the ones that they would direct that to, and shortly after that, we expect to start getting applications in,” Pennington said.

Green said part of the challenge for a search like this is that candidates may not necessarily be looking for the job.

“The person that we want to hire may not be out there reading the job ads. Sometimes what you want is somebody who hasn’t really thought about moving, and when you suggest this opportunity they say, ‘Oh, that sounds like something I’d be really good at.'” Green said, “So we have to do a lot of reaching out to people who aren’t necessarily reading the want ads.”

The search will continue until a suitable candidate is chosen, but applications must be received by Dec. 15 to guarantee full consideration, Green said.

“At that point, any applications that are in by that point will get full consideration. I’m sure things will still come in, but at some point we have to say ‘This is the pool that we’re looking at,’ and if you come in afterwards, you’ve got to be really spectacular, and blow us away,” Green said. “But we don’t officially close it until we have hired somebody and they’ve signed a contract.”

“But we’re certainly hoping to have the new provost identified by mid- to late- spring,” Pennington said.

The entire process is a collaborative one, from creating the job description, to making the decision. Anyone within the university community was able to comment on the job description. The committee, assembled according to University Senate Procedures, is made up of up to 10 people from various groups within the university, including an undergraduate and graduate student representative.

Green said that it is important the process, especially for the provost position, is open to the entire university community.

“A big part of it is because it’s a university-wide position, especially the provost … that we have to be sure that we’re open to all input from the campus, and be sure that the campus community has a chance to come to open forums with the candidates, and meet them firsthand, which is also good for the committee too, because we get to see how well they can inspire the community,” Green said.

The magnitude of the position makes collaboration important as well.

“The provost is the one responsible for everything academic, meaning all of the programs that students get degrees in, and all of the faculty and staff who are here to deliver those programs for those degrees,” Pennington said. “So the provost takes care of what we usually think of as an academic institution.”

Visits and open forums will likely be scheduled once the pool of candidates is narrowed down, and it is likely that the candidates will be kept confidential until that point.

Pennington said no matter who the new provost is, the hope is that he or she will “enable the faculty, staff and students to go beyond what they thought they could do.”

Seel has high hopes for his replacement as well, and sums it up with a quote from the University’s history.

“There is a beautiful quote by former president Ray Smith which articulates my hopes for the next provost and for everyone involved with Michigan Tech. He said ‘We are all transients to the scene of the University – students, alumni, faculty, administration, Board of Control, buildings, and even Tech’s name. What really endures is an idea; the concept of an institution of higher learning. All that any of us can hope to accomplish is to utilize these transient things and beings to the best advantage in securing for Tech a reputation unquestioned and unexcelled in the present and for the future.'”

For more information about the position, those interested can visit Michigan Tech’s website for the search,