By Morgan Petronelli
The search is on to find Youngstown State University’s next top provost and vice president of academic affairs.
The roles and duties of the second-highest ranking university official stretch far and wide. Most notably, the provost is responsible for leading the Division of Academic Affairs and working with the university president to improve the institution academically.
The Provost Search Committee has narrowed down the competition to four prospective candidates for the position. The current interim provost is Joseph Mosca who filled in for previous Provost Martin Abraham.
Finalists were required to visit the university and hold two open forum sessions to introduce themselves and their perspective plans for the university.
The first of the finalists to participate in the open forums beginning Feb. 25 was Susan Stapleton.
Stapleton, the former interim provost at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has held a number of positions at her previous institution including professor of chemistry, biochemistry and biological sciences, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and dean of the Graduate College at WMU.
In her expression of interest letter to the search committee, she cited she aided in the increased freshman retention rate at WMU, which resulted in a 2 percent increase from fall 2017 to fall 2018 and the highest rate in five years from fall 2017 to spring 2018 data.
She noted some of her accomplishments as interim provost at WMU included implementing a “Freshman 15 Program” where incoming freshmen were encouraged to register for 15 or more credit hours per semester, and starting a plan to help students nearing graduation who are in financial need and have used up all of their financial aid, to which she said led to “nearly 100 percent graduation success of all students.”
During the open forum, Stapleton took questions from students, faculty and other members of the YSU community.
She said despite the hit the community took with the loss of the General Motors Co. Lordstown Plant, YSU is an “economic hub for development” in the area.
“In particular, with the full closing of the Lordstown plant, people will be looking to [YSU] for new ideas, new ways to generate business and draw individuals into the region,” Stapleton said. “You have the opportunity to be a driver. You’ve already started with your emphasis in the advanced manufacturing area … People will come and investigate and look at YSU as not only a leader in that particular arena from scientific development to patents and inquiry, but also a leader in terms of community and civic engagement.”
She said the community should be proud to have an economically strong institution such as YSU, but noted the university needed someone to lead that initiative.
“[YSU] is developing a new strategic plan that will provide the road map on the future of this institution and the future of this region,” Stapleton said. “It’s a really wonderful time to be a part the Youngstown community and this university, and I would be proud to be your provost and help with leading that discussion.”
Read about the rest of the candidates online at thejambar.com and to watch the open forums visit https://youtu.be/OfnESwRgJ2w.