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Q & A with new MU Provost Phyllis Callahan

Photo by Brett Milam | The Miami Student

What were your greatest accomplishments as dean of the College of Arts and Science?

One of my goals was to emphasize professional development for students pursuing a liberal arts education. Liberal arts are very important for developing strong skills that are valuable for students regardless of which profession they choose. We train people who can go into many different professions because they have strong analytical, writing, and oral communication skills. That's what the liberal arts does for all of us.

What made you interested in becoming the university provost?

For me, it is always about where I can have the most impact. Being dean is a fabulous job, and the people here in the CAS are incredible. I really must confess that I did not think about applying for the provost position, but as people talked to me about it, I began to consider it and I decided I would apply.

What was the application process like for this position?

Applicants write a letter of intent including your qualifications along with a detailed resume and names of references. These are submitted to a search committee, and they go through a process of screening the applicants.

Some are invited to meet with the search committee as well as President Hodge, and, in this search, three candidates were invited for on-campus interviews. Candidates meet with the President, members of the search committee, the vice presidents, deans, and there are open meetings with the chairs and directors, the faculty, and students.

As provost, how do you plan to fulfill your duties?

Personally, what I'm interested in is student experiences, because that's what we're here for. At the end of the day, the students are our first priority. Working with students is invigorating-whenever you're tired, working with students makes you feel recharged.

I am also really interested in retention issues, keeping students at Miami and helping them reach their goals. I want to ensure that they have the kinds of opportunities that they want educationally, both directly in the classroom and in other activities that enhance their experience. I'm also really interested in diversity -we need continue to diversify our population and be sure we have an accessible, welcoming campus.

How will your experience as dean be able to help you as provost?

You learn a lot as dean. Listening is such an important skill. You need to be attentive all the time and really listen to different perspectives in order to help solve problems. I have learned to keep an open mind and I value working with others.

One of the advantages of being the dean in CAS is being exposed to diversity. I come from a science department, and becoming dean allowed me to be exposed to many more academic areas which really broadened my background.