Two academic leaders at Fort Hays State University attended a four-day leadership session in July that can advance their careers while also enhancing the quality of education at FHSU.
Dr. Rob Scott, dean of the College of Education and Technology, and Dr. Jennifer Bonds-Raacke, chair of the Department of Psychology, participated in a session of the "Becoming a Provost Academy" in San Francisco. Sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and by the American Academic Leadership Institute, the yearlong academy includes a second session that will take place next February in Point Clear, Ala.
Scott said FHSU was represented at the session in San Francisco in two unusual ways. First, FHSU and one other university were the only schools that sent two participants. Second, FHSU had both the least-experienced participant and the most-experienced participant among the nearly 30 attendees. Bonds-Raacke was the only participant below the rank of dean or vice president, and Scott was the only participant who had previously held a rank equivalent to provost. He was the vice president for academic affairs -- the chief academic officer -- from 2003 to 2007 at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
The academy prepares experienced academic leaders and administrators to become successful chief academic officers. Participants are acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of the cabinet-level position through the two sessions, readings, experiential activities, internship opportunities, executive coaching and mentorship experiences.
"In between the sessions you are supposed to be working on projects," Bonds-Raacke explained. "This is a year-long opportunity to learn and to apply it on your campus. My project involves policy formation. I will work with the Provost's Council on some policies with regard to the Virtual College."
Scott said that as someone with previous experience as a chief academic officer, the academy was giving him an opportunity to re-connect with that role. "The session in San Francisco was interesting in that you had sessions with people who had done this training before, with provosts and with presidents," he said. "You learned: A. how do you become a provost; and B. how do you remain a provost. "
Scott said the continuing work between sessions would give participants the chance to "bone-up" on provost duties in areas where they lack experience. "My experiential plan involves fund raising," he said. "I will be working with the FHSU Foundation and with Debra Prideaux, director of the FHSU Alumni Association."
Bonds-Raacke and Scott said they appreciated the opportunity provided by Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost.
"This allows me to improve the institution and to improve student learning," Bonds-Raacke said.
"Larry sees this as an opportunity for continuing participation by academic leaders at FHSU, not just a one-time experience for the two of us," Scott added. "The academy is new -- about three years -- and still evolving."
Both also had special praise for Ann Die Hasselmo, current president of the American Academic Leadership Institute and former president of Hendrix College in Arkansas.
"As the leader of our session, she immediately established community among the participants," Bonds-Raacke said . "We will continue bimonthly telephone conversations with Ann and send monthly updates to her. We also have a special website to share information with the other participants."
"She has great experience and was very enthused," Scott said. "She made it very interesting because of her energy."