Provost finalist João Sedycias, Ph.D., visits A-State

João Sedycias, Ph.D.

João Sedycias, Ph.D., visited Arkansas State University on Wednesday in a public forum to discuss his plans for the university if chosen as provost. He answered questions from gathered faculty and staff to address concerns facing their departments.

A provost acts as the chief academic officer for a university, helping develop policies, manage budgets and make faculty and tenure decisions.

Currently, Sedycias serves as dean of the William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences at New Jersey City University. He holds a doctorate degree in comparative literature. He has also served as department chair at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Essex County College in Newark, N.J. and Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil.

If chosen as provost, Sedycias plans to make A-State a place “where students are at the very center of everything,” by utilizing high impact practices such as first-year seminars and emporium-based learning, which are computer-based learning resources where students receive help from their professors when needed.

Sedycias also plans to commit to “sound fiscal management.” While at New Jersey City University, Sedycias used a responsibility center management (RCM) model, which is a budgeting model where revenue-generating units are responsible for managing their own revenues and expenditures, in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Sedycias is also committed to “meaningful shared governance guided by the principles of collegiality, transparency and empowerment and accountability.” He added that “all campus constituencies through their representative spokespeople, will actively participate in the decision making process, shaping discussions on that as a policy and procedure.”

He also plans to be committed to increasing fundraising. Sedycias spoke about his experiences increasing funds for programs, scholarships, lectureships and student and faculty research at NJCU.

Sedycias also plans to be committed to servant leadership, adding that he was “deeply committed to the personal and professional growth of every individual” he works with.

Sedycias added that his background in the humanities, but also his extensive work in molecular biology, helps him understand all aspects of a university’s courses and “promote interdisciplinary collaboration.”

Cherisse Jones-Branch, Ph.D, dean of the graduate school and history professor, brought up concerns with helping graduate students secure stipends. 

Sedycias said if chosen as provost, he would want to sit down with Jones-Branch to discuss how to best pursue graduate stipends for students. 

“Our budgets here traditionally are a historical model that is pretty much what you had last year. Or if we’re facing cuts, you get what you had last year,” said Brad Rawlins, Ph.D., director of the School of Media and Journalism. “But as you’re well aware, we’re facing a number of financial challenges as an institution that can easily be resolved with greater enrollments, but what are your thoughts and philosophy about working with colleges in terms of new budget models?”

Sedycias said the school would need to “start with data. We need data to see how each knowledge out with each department unit is performing in the university.”

“Data” would include how many majors a department has, how many professors are on tenure and what kinds of professors a particular program has. 

“There are a lot of units on campus like First Year Success, Student Success and the library that are very vital for student success. But we don’t generate majors, we don’t generate graduates. So how do you make those types of budget decisions for those units?” said April Sheppard, assistant library director.

For institutions such as those, Sedycias said he couldn’t use the “same cookie cutter approach.” Budgeting would be taken on a case-by-case basis to ensure each institution is evaluated properly and fairly.

Sedycias asked the faculty and staff in attendance what they would expect of him as provost, as well as what he would like and dislike about the job. Many in attendance said he would enjoy the community and the people. Sheppard brought up a need for transparency and for including all departments in the decision-making process. 

“The thing I anticipate you’ll like the least is not necessarily unique to Arkansas State University, but the pace of change sometimes can be agonizingly slow as we go through the decision making processes,” said Jeff Bailey, library director. “As the world gets faster and faster, it’s been challenging many times to feel like we’ve been able to change quickly enough to even keep the pace of change in sight.”

The next provost finalist to visit A-State will be Mark Clarke, Ph.D., with a meet-and-greet scheduled on Feb. 28 and a public forum starting at 9 a.m. in the Reng Student Union auditorium on March 1. The forum will be livestreamed for anyone unable to attend.

The livestream for Sedycias can be found here.

Categories: News

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