The final candidate for the permanent position of provost and vice president for educational affairs at Ithaca College visited the campus Dec. 11 to share his vision for the future of the college.
David Haney, vice president for academic affairs at Emory & Henry College, is one of the four finalists to replace Marisa Kelly, former provost and vice president for educational affairs, who left the college on May 31.
During his visit, Haney spoke with members of the campus community at an open meeting in Emerson Suites, presenting his thoughts on the college’s new educational initiatives and how he would further them as provost.
Combination of academic and student affairs
Haney said his top priority as provost would be the integration of academic and student affairs, which he said was one of the reasons he was interested in the job.
“One of the things that’s really important to me is looking at the student as a whole,” he said. “Students don’t say at 4’ oclock, ‘I’ve completed all my classes so I’m moving from the jurisdiction of academic affairs to the jurisdiction of residence life as I go to my dorm room.’ They don’t make that distinction.”
Haney said the approach of integrating academic and student affairs will lead to a better educational experience for students.
“You have the opportunity to see students’ college career as a sort of life project that’s not just compartmentalized into different areas,” he said.
As provost, in overseeing the implementation of integrating different parts of the college, as well as with the job’s other responsibilities, Haney said he would try to strike a balance between being hands on and hands off. He said both extremes have negative impacts and the best approach is somewhere between the two.
Redesigning the plane while in flight
While Haney said he views the integration of different aspects of the college as a worthy goal, he said the process will not come without challenges. He said combining a campus-wide restructuring with the everyday duties of educating and providing services to current students is problematic.
“You’re redesigning the airplane while it’s in flight, which has a certain amount of risk to it,” Haney said. “It’s also very difficult to do.”
Haney said another challenge he sees in the collaboration of different areas of the college is that it might make some job descriptions more vague, and require more flexibility.
He said when he spoke to members of student life during his visit, their thoughts on the integration with academic affairs was largely positive, but with a few caveats, namely that the integration might cause student life to lose some of its individualized voice within the college. Haney said members of the Faculty Council expressed similar sentiments.
However, despite these challenges, Haney said he remained optimistic that the initiatives the college is introducing are reachable goals.
Long-term presence at college
One question that was asked of Haney at the open meeting was whether he sees himself being at the college long-term. Haney has only been at Emory & Henry College for just under three years, and he said he was not actively looking for a new job, but thought the opportunity to be provost at Ithaca College was too good to pass up.
Haney said the college is a place he could see himself staying at for the rest of his career as an administrator. However, he added that he feels the job of provost doesn’t lend itself to one person staying for too long. Haney said it would not be a good idea to have one provost for 20 years, for example, because educational philosophy shifts so rapidly, and it would be hard for one person to keep up.
During the question portion of the open meeting, Haney was also asked what he would see as his signature achievement three years down the road. He said too specific an answer would be counterproductive as he said he doesn’t think he’s familiar enough with the intricacies of the college’s systems to know what the campuses’ biggest needs are. However, he said the integration between academic and student affairs would likely be the first challenge he would deal with as provost.