Provost candidates narrowed to four finalists

Heather Detrixhe

Staff Writer

The four candidates vying for the position of University of Houston-System vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs/provost, will visit UH this month. The two positions were merged as part of the UH-System administration consolidation with UH's main campus.

"The provost is the number two person at the university," said Wendy Adair, associate vice president for university relations.

The provost will now also be the chief academic officer for the University of Houston System. The dean of each department answers directly to the provost, and all academic programs must be cleared through that office.

The position is now open because the current Provost George Magner, who was appointed as an interim provost spring 1997, is ready to step down. A committee of 18 UH faculty, staff and administration members was appointed by UH President/UH Chancellor Arthur Smith to sift through the more than 60 applications for the position received since April.

Committee chairman Alex Ignatiev said, "I'm really pleased with the committee's work thus far. I think we have a strong candidate pool and will be able to give Smith a very good list of recommendations."

The committee narrowed the applicants to four candidates by three stages of elimination. All applicants who were not qualified were eliminated from the list, and all of the remaining candidates were carefully evaluated. After checking references, the committee held airport interviews with remaining applicants to decide upon the final four.

UH is holding separate open receptions for each candidate so that faculty, staff, administration and students can meet with them and evaluate them. The search committee will then recommend two or three candidates to Smith.

"The search committee will consider all input in their recommendations to Smith," Ignatiev said. "Forms will be available (at the receptions) to fill out for feedback."

The finalists include Blaine A. Brownell, Edward P. Sheridan, David Watt and former Provost John M. Ivancevich.

Brownell currently holds the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Texas. He is also a professor of history with a professional background in urban, international and American studies.

Sheridan is a professor of psychology and provost for the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has been a professor at four universities and worked privately as an administrator in the mental health profession for several years.

Watt is vice chancellor for academic affairs and research, and a chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky. Besides compiling extensive research and publications, Watt has served in an administrative capacity for UK for the last six years.

Ivancevich is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Chair of Organizational Behavior and Management, and a professor of organizational behavior and management at UH. He held the position of UH Provost from July 1995 until April 1997.

Ivancevich resigned after 20 months in the position when Smith became chancellor and president. In a statement about his resignation, Ivancevich wrote, "My resignation offers the new chancellor/president the opportunity to form his own administration."

"It is unusual for someone to resign and then apply for the same position later," said Magner. "Obviously he decided he liked the job."

Magner said he was ready to leave the position but "we will part happily. The job takes a person with a lot of energy and a lot of time. I'm almost ready to retire and I would like to focus on teaching. Teaching is what I love," Magner said.

The reception for Brownell will be 4 p.m. Dec. 8 and for Sheridan 4 p.m. Dec. 10. Both will be held in the Grand Ballroom, room 202 of the UH Hilton.

Watt's reception will be 4 p.m. Dec. 15 and Ivancevich's will be 4 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Shamrock Ballroom, room 261 of the UH Hilton.

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