As the search committee looks for a new provost, two student listening sessions were held on Feb. 18 as an opportunity for students to voice their ideas and goals for the candidates for this position.
Tanya Winegard, vice provost for student life, was the moderator for both of these sessions.
The student turnout for these sessions was very low, according to Colby Austin, Creighton Students Union president and freshman in the College of Nursing.
The first session only had eight students in attendance including Austin, while the second session had no other students in addition to Austin.
Austin is the only student on the provost search committee.
Austin said that while the first listening session provided some valuable student input about the provost position, she wished there had been more of a turnout in order to get a better representation of the student population.
Two other search committee members were present at the second session: Terry Grindstaff, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, and Amy McGaha, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine.
McGaha said that as a member of the search committee, she wants to make sure that all of the students’ concerns are heard.
“I want to make sure that we do have our arms around all of your concerns, and not just make an assumption,” McGaha said.
According to Austin’s notes, the students at the first session voiced many ideas about things that the provost should focus on, as well as what would make the position successful.
Some of the common themes from the first session included accessibility and transparency of the provost, a focus on the Creighton community, diversity and inclusivity, mental health awareness and growth of the university.
“I definitely took these listening sessions very seriously being the only student voice on the search committee,” Austin said.
When asked why students should care about the provost position, Austin said that while there are many aspects of being a student at Creighton, academics are at the forefront.
“We are here to get an education. We are here to get a degree, so the provost being the chief officer of academics is obviously a huge position for us, and that affects every student in every aspect,” Austin said.
There were separate provost listening sessions for students, faculty and staff. Winegard said that while the same questions are asked at each of the sessions, each group has a different viewpoint on the issues.
“I think the Creighton community is concerned about the same kind of things, but we come at it from a different lens, from a different experience,” Winegard said.
On Jan. 27, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., sent out an email to Creighton students to announce Provost Tom Murray’s decision to retire. The provost search committee was formed after this announcement.