Plattsburgh State met the third and final candidate for the college’s next provost and vice president for academic affairs last Friday and Saturday after a week-long virtual interview process as a result of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The interviewee, Kellie Bean, was greeted by more than 100 faculty, students and staff during an open forum hosted by Campus Housing and Community Living Director Steve Matthews. The forum was made available to the community via Zoom on the vice presidential search webpage on PSU’s website. Each candidate was introduced Monday, Wednesday and Friday and given the opportunity to answer questions about their views on higher education, academic advising and more.
Each candidate’s curriculum vitae was also available to the public on the college’s website. Bean received her Ph.D. in English at the University of Delaware in 1994. She taught English for 16 years before becoming associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, in 2010, later becoming provost at Lyndon State College in Lyndon, Vermont, in 2013. Since 2015, Bean has had previous experience as both dean and assistant provost of academic affairs at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York.
“My career has focused on students and student success and ways that higher education can serve the greater good,” Bean said. “I became fascinated by the business of higher education, so I moved into administration, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
After realizing some faculty members had trouble understanding their students’ education experience in New York after high school, Bean helped organize teaching tables for faculty that shared data on the subject and provided strategies on how to provide better support for those students.
“Knowing who your students are changed the conversation about why they are,” Bean said. “One of the key ways to move faculty toward the greater good is to share data and provide it to them. I am in this position to think about strategy, think about global issues and provide support.”
When asked what she would do during her first 100 days as provost on campus, Bean said that answer would be very different a few months ago, arguing that the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic may not allow her to be on campus at all. However, Bean said one of her priorities for the fall semester would simply be making sure everyone is OK.
“As a new administrator, I have to spend a lot of time meeting and talking with people,” Bean said. “It takes longer, I think, to get to know people with this media intervention than face-to-face, but for the first 100 days, I’m [focusing on] getting to know people and studying the institution. If we’re still remote, the sad part of that would be that I won’t meet students, and that’s a really important part of my life on any campus.”
When the subject of parents delaying their children from enrolling in higher education as a result of the pandemic, which would lead to further enrollment declines and budget deficits for PSU, Bean acknowledged the problem and gave possible solutions.
“The enrollment folks are going to struggle bringing students back to campus, and we have to look at our budget and be laser-focused on what we do and what keeps students here, because that’s how we stay afloat,” Bean said.
Although the online feedback survey to evaluate Bean has closed, all feedback information from the individual surveys of each candidate will be compiled by RPA, Inc., an executive recruitment and consulting firm for higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations, and shared with the search committee to decide which administrator will be the best fit for PSU.
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