Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rob Rosenthal, who became provost in the fall of 2010, will be stepping down from the position after the spring 2013 semester. A committee is currently in the process of selecting a new provost.
“I’m not a career administrator,” Rosenthal said. “Three years ago, [President] Michael Roth asked me if I would [hold the position] for a year, then after a little while for a couple of years, and I said I would do it for three years. Three years are up after this year.”
According to the position summary dated Sept. 12, 2012, Rosenthal as provost is responsible for overseeing the University curriculum and all curriculum initiatives. These obligations include hiring and promoting faculty, supporting faculty research and teaching, administrating all academic departments and programs, as well as helping to administrate the University’s budget. The provost must also preside over the University in the president’s absence. The provost oversees the library, athletics, international studies, the divisional deans, and institutional research.
Rosenthal lamented the fact that, unlike in his role as a professor, as provost he interacts little with students except when he meets with committees containing student advisors.
“One of the things that I find strange about the job and one of the reasons that I will go back to teaching when I said I would is because I have such limited contact with students,” Rosenthal said. “I find it so bizarre that my whole job is about student life, and yet I hardly ever see students, which is strange when you’re used to your whole life being teaching and meeting students everyday.”
Rosenthal will return to his position as John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology next fall.
Rosenthal added that having student input as well as faculty input is important to his role as an administrator. He explained that he would advise the future provost to reach out to the University community.
“You always want to consult as much as possible,” Rosenthal said. “It’s important to include students and staff in decision-making. It’s not a way to move quickly, but it’s a way to get everyone’s voice involved. It’s a trade-off.”
According to Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Academic Affairs Committee Chair Sam Ebb ’13, who is serving as student representative on the search committee for a new provost, candidates currently being considered are all employed by the University in some capacity.
The committee will suggest any selection of finalists it deems appropriate to President Roth, who will ultimately make the decision. Ebb explained that, ideally, a new provost will be selected by the end of the calendar year, allowing that new provost to work with Rosenthal before fully transitioning into the position in the fall of 2013.
Rosenthal explained that acting as provost has given him a better understanding of the difficulties of helping to administrate a university.
“The University is really complex,” he said. “Most of us don’t see it from a lot of different angles, and most of us understandably spend most of our time thinking about how to make it work for us. It’s a different animal when you have to make all the parts work together.”