Thomasina Johnson

Change is in the air as Miami University searches for a new provost. 

Starting in July, Miami University’s new Interim Provost John Skillings will bring experience and new ideas to the school, according to Dionn Tron, associate vice president for university communications.

According to Skillings, the search for a new provost will take a while because Miami wants to find the best possible candidate and advertise appropriately. 

“We are hiring a search firm to bring candidates in,” Skillings said.

Tron said the search firm manages the process and is very skilled at what it does.

“It can be surprising who applies to the provost position because of the economy and lack of jobs,” Tron said.

The search firm looks at candidates and selects a strong pool. Typically we want to narrow it down to three candidates. Miami University hopes to bring the top three candidates to campus in August, Tron said. 

“We want them to see what it’s like when classes are running and students are around,” Tron said. “We hope to select the next provost after the last rounds of interviews.”

According to Tron, the final selection for the provost position will occur soon after the August campus visit, but the process can’t be rushed.

Meeting with the top applicants can be difficult because of the candidates’ schedules,” Tron said.  

To help make the final decision, Carine Feyten, dean of the School of Education, Health and Society, will head a search committee. The committee is composed of faculty members nominated by university senate, Tron said.

Skillings is a professor of statistics and special assistant to the president for enrollment management. Tron said Skillings is currently working with Provost Jeffrey Herbst to ensure a seamless transition after Herbst leaves.

According to Tron and Skillings, the administration will reassess student recruiting and retention. Skillings will also work on meeting the Five Year Strategic Goals. 

“We’re taking a more holistic approach to admission,” Tron said.

According to the September 2008 Mission and Goals newsletter, the Five Year Strategic Goals include raising the level of minority students, increasing study abroad participation, increasing student research and constructing a Bicentennial Student Center. 

According to Tron, Skillings is a good choice for the interim provost position because of his experience in both the academic and administrative fields.

“We are fortunate he’s available,” said Tronn. “He knows the university well.” 

Skillings expressed his willingness to accept the challenges of his current position and the interim provost position.

“Miami is a great institution,” Skillings said. “I want to keep give students the best educational experience. That’s what motivates me. We live in a difficult budget and we need to address the ways we can move the university forward.”