Northern Kentucky University (NKU) seeks an entrepreneurial and strategic leader to serve as its next Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs (provost). This individual will join NKU at a critical moment, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, with unprecedented challenges facing public higher education. Courageous leadership is more important than ever. NKU’s next provost will work alongside a dynamic and visionary president and a highly talented and committed leadership team. The provost will be unafraid to challenge academic conventions, but only following deep consultation and with an authentic investment in collegial governance, to help NKU fulfill its vision of a student-ready and regionally engaged institution.
NKU is a flourishing public university located in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati metropolitan area, just minutes away from downtown Cincinnati. Nationally recognized as a steward of place, NKU is a model for public engagement through the alignment of its teaching, learning, research, scholarship, and economic and civic mission with the needs of the region. The university delivers innovative student-centered education and engages in impactful scholarly and creative endeavors, all of which empower learners to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, while contributing to the economic, civic, and social vitality of the region. A young institution, NKU can reflect on its five decades with pride, and more recently at the founding of two new colleges; the construction of several new buildings on campus, including the state-of-the-art Health Innovation Center; welcoming the inaugural UK College of Medicine cohort to the Northern Kentucky campus, and a successful transition to Division I athletics.
Reporting to President Ashish Vaidya and collaborating closely with other university leaders, the provost will serve as the chief academic officer with responsibility for aligning resource allocation with strategy. The provost will have direct responsibility for seven colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences, the Haile/US Bank College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Health & Human Services, the College of Informatics, the Honors College, and the Salmon P. Chase College of Law – as well as the Institute for Health Innovation; W. Frank Steely Library; Undergraduate Academic Affairs; Enrollment and Degree Management; Graduate Education; the Center for Global Education and International Affairs; and a number of other programs and initiatives.
The ideal candidate will possess a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship commensurate with full professor status at NKU; a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; a proven history of forging and leveraging strategic community partnerships; experience in senior academic administration with a record of supporting student success, and managing complex change initiatives in a collaborative and consensus-building environment. NKU has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this search. All applications, inquiries, and nominations, which will remain confidential, should be directed to the search firm as indicated below.
Traian Marius Truta
Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Computer Science
Chair, Department of Mathmatics and Statistics
Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Gateway College
Executive Assistant to the Provost
Chief Information Officer
Faculty Senate Chair/Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Faculty Senate/Librarian, Associate Professor-Steely Library
Jose Saavedra Torres
Faculty/Department of Marketing, Sports Business & Const Mgt
Director, Norse Advising
Director, Upward Bound
Faculty, Chase College of Law
NKU seeks as its next provost a collaborative and strategic academic leader who will effectively manage an extensive administrative enterprise, champion student success, inspire and lead the faculty, align with other university leaders, and represent NKU, its academic programs, and educational mission to external and internal constituencies. The provost will run the university’s academic enterprise. They must have the capacity to help shape and implement the president’s vision and the strategic framework’s pillars, be an informed and influential partner for other senior administrators, and a judicious delegator of appropriate tasks.
Specific opportunities and challenges include:
The provost’s primary role is to advance the university’s academic mission. The new provost will need the requisite experience to engage and motivate deans, chairs, faculty, and staff across the university to align their respective academic missions to help the university fulfill its bold aspirations.
The provost will have a track record of academic innovation and change management within an academic setting and will be expected to develop a strategic plan for academic affairs that aligns with the Success by Design framework. To do so, the provost will successfully integrate academic operations with long term planning and strategic goal setting. The provost will bring a track record of success in the varied roles of an academic leader: as a teacher, scholar, and administrator. They will build strong relationships with faculty, based in a demonstrated understanding of the challenges, rewards, and current transformations of academic careers. The provost must also have a natural curiosity about and an appreciation for a wide range of academic disciplines and functions, and a disposition for identifying areas of cross disciplinary and cross school collaboration.
The provost will build on existing transfer collaborations with community colleges as well as pursue potential collaborations with other universities in the region. Gateway2NKU is a dualadmissions partnership between Gateway Community & Technical College and NKU. Also, the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus, a partnership between the University of Kentucky Medical School, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Northern Kentucky University, welcomed its inaugural cohort of 35 students in fall 2019. The four-year medical school is located on NKU’s campus and complements offerings at the main campus in Lexington.
Implementation of Success by Design will require collaboration and alignment across divisions within the institution. The provost will need to interact and collaborate with the full range of university divisions, especially Student Affairs. Students’ sense of belonging, retention, and engagement requires that academic affairs work more closely with other divisions to define academic programs and to support students in navigating them.
The provost will complement the president, board, and senior leadership team, advancing an approach rooted in institutional alignment. The provost will garner the trust and respect of senior colleagues, bringing sophistication and fluency about the most challenging topics facing higher education; the ability to question assumptions in a collaborative way; and a capacity for stimulating the very best thinking among NKU’s leadership.
The ability to hire and retain high-quality faculty is critical to NKU’s long-term success. The next provost will partner with deans and chairs and lead efforts to recruit and retain excellent faculty. The provost will further strengthen the systems for hiring, developing, and retaining faculty that recognize changing needs over the course of a career and varied modes of work, including tenure line and non-tenure line appointments, and establish priorities and plans for faculty mentoring, development, and retention.
Focused attention on efforts to recruit, and retain, a more diverse faculty will be a top priority for the next provost. NKU seeks to maintain its status as a leader in Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. This will require a heightened dedication to sustainably increasing the proportion of its students and faculty drawn from diverse racial, economic, and cultural backgrounds. The provost’s personal leadership will be central to advancing this goal, and the successful candidate will bring a deep-seated commitment to the mission of diversity, equity and inclusion, and a nuanced understanding of its complexities.
The provost will bring a strong record of managing change, personnel management, conflict resolution, and professional development for staff and faculty leaders. They will value the wisdom and diverse expertise of direct reports, empower them, and ensure their effectiveness individually and as a team. The provost will bring a record of successful oversight of complex planning, content development, and budgeting efforts as well as financial acumen.
The provost must ensure that the provost’s senior team and office continue to provide efficient and effective support for both faculty and staff by ensuring consistency in policy and approach, open communication, and trust in decision making. The provost is also responsible for cultivating a culture of collaboration and mutual respect between staff and faculty. The provost will bring an attention to detail coupled with an ability to prioritize and delegate effectively.
As the academic leader of the university, the provost has an expansive portfolio and manages a large budget, a complex structure of faculty leadership, and the university’s largest personnel group. The new provost will work with the president, the senior staff and the appropriate faculty committees to assess administrative structures and, if necessary, make changes that will help enhance support of core mission activities. The provost will be expected to honor and enhance collegial governance and develop budget processes that are efficient, fair, and strategic.
NKU is in a healthy financial position, but like most other public institutions operates in a resourceconstrained environment. The single largest revenue stream for the university is tuition, and state officials control tuition rate increases for in-state undergraduates. The provost should be skilled in resource management and in aligning incentives, rewards, and structures to ensure both efficiency and effectiveness of resources: people, finances, space, and technology. In this challenging environment, knowing how best to reduce or reallocate resources and to seek revenue opportunities, including public-private partnerships, will be key.
NKU seeks an academic leader who can look ahead in the evolving national and global landscape, anticipating emerging opportunities, and position the university to flourish. The next provost will need to be keenly aware of trends in higher education, particularly the changing demographics associated with enrollment. The provost will oversee and execute a strategic enrollment management plan aligned with the Success by Design framework. The provost will maintain a clear understanding of the stewardship of place and recognize the civic, social, and economic commitments of a regional comprehensive university such as NKU. In addition, the provost will be a critical member in assisting the university’s leadership in navigating the unchartered territory of higher education during the time of COVID-19.
Relatedly, the provost will have an understanding of proven and leading-edge methods and instructional technologies to support faculty, staff, and students in a large public university. The provost will be a forward-thinking academic leader with a passion for staying abreast of technology and educational delivery trends in higher education and will demonstrate a commitment to advancing research and scholarship through technology.
The successful candidate will demonstrate many of the following characteristics and qualifications:
On behalf of the Provost Search Committee, the search firm WittKieffer has met with the following members of the community to gather input to inform the Leadership Profile. Additional outreach will take place over the summer and early fall. In the early Fall, open forums will be scheduled to gather input from faculty, staff and students.
Partner Marc St.Hilaire, Senior Associate
Electronic submission of materials is strongly encouraged.