Final provost candidate touts strategic plan work

BY NINA EARNEST | MAY 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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Final University of Iowa provost candidate Uday Sukhatme told an audience of faculty, staff, and administrators on Wednesday about specific successes he saw while implementing a strategic plan at his current university.

And if selected, he would be responsible for continuing to manage former Provost Wallace Loh’s strategic plan at the UI.

Sukhatme, the vice chancellor and dean of the faculties at Indiana University/Purdue University-Indianapolis, made a presentation to a crowd of roughly 90 people in the Bijou.

He said Wednesday he would stay at the UI at least five years — the average tenure for a provost — but said he could stay longer.

Sukhatme focused on the academic plan he established at his current position and briefly touched on accomplishments at his prior job as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York-Buffalo.

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The vice chancellor, who began his tenure in 2006, highlighted 11 major points of the plan and its positive outcomes.

At both schools, Sukhatme said he initiated signature centers of interdisciplinary study — which bring together researchers to focus on a specific and “distinctly identifiable” area — that brought both a new revenue stream and name recognition to the universities.

Other points of the plan included recruitment of underrepresented faculty, new academic programs, enrollment shaping, and marketing initiatives.

At different points of the forum, Sukhatme stressed the need to create smaller, visible programs to market the institution and improve the ability to achieve long-term goals.

“If you are doing a good job, you need to showcase it,” he said. “People need to be proud of what the achievements are.”

Teresa Mangum, the director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, said she was interested in the notion of signature centers and interdisciplinary study.

“How did you go about persuading deans and the campus at large to take up large-scale initiatives?” she asked.

The candidate said, while signature centers in scientific areas are expected to make money, centers in the arts and humanities will increase name recognition for the school.

“You have to help them, but they bring a different kind of value and distinction to the campus,” the vice chancellor said. “And we need to stress that.”

John Keller, the dean of the Graduate College, said he was impressed by Sukhatme’s administrative background and his work with graduate programs. The candidate’s efforts to raise stipends for graduate students resonates with efforts at the UI, Keller said.

“I think he views the University of Iowa as a higher level of education he would take try to take his experience to and try to help Iowa accomplish its goals,” he said.

Before the presentation closed, philosophy Professor Greg Landini asked what could lead Sukhatme away from his current university.

“It’s really blossomed, that institution, and now I see that it’s blossomed very much under some of your ideas,” Landini said.

The candidate said he preferred to stay in the Midwest, and he considered the UI a “distinguished” school.

“If I can help its academic programs based on my experience, if you think that’s the right fit, then I would be happy and honored to take the position,” Sukhatme said.

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