Sonoma State slated to announce new Provost in March

The search for the new executive vice president for academic affairs, also known as the provost, is reaching its last phase as the university hosts the last of four open forums for the final candidates on Wednesday.

A hiring committee of professors, administrators, staff and students selected the candidates.

The four candidates for the position are Juan Meza, dean of School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced, David Schecter, vice provost at CSU Bakersfield, Jody Hironaka-Juteau, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at CSU Fresno and Lisa Vollendorf, dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State University.

Meza and Schecter both held their open forums last week while Hironaka-Juteau held hers on Monday. The forum for Vollendorf will be held on Wednesday from 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Room No. 3001 at the Sonoma State library.

The forums provide attendees the opportunity to give anonymous feedback about the candidates. It is expected that the selected candidate will be announced in early March by the committee.

The selected applicant will succeed Jeronima Echeverria, a former administrator at Fresno State and long-time friend of current Sonoma State President Judy K. Sakaki. Echeverria came out of retirement to hold the provost position for one year, as Sakaki assumed the role of president and began the search for her executive cabinet.

From deans to vice provost, all four final candidates have previous work experience in the California State University system.

“The provost is the second in command at any university,” Echeverria said. “They advise the president and are responsible for all the faculty and academic programs.”

The responsibilities of the provost also include analyzing the academic curriculum offered at Sonoma State and finding ways to make sure students are able to study what they want without being set back by impacted majors, which are majors with too many applicants and not enough space.

“We would like to reduce the number of impacted majors by either hiring more faculty for those majors or finding ways for students to choose other majors they are as interested in,” Echeverria said.

Currently there are 10 impacted majors in the Sonoma State curriculum. These majors are biology, communication studies, criminology and criminal justice studies, pre-business, environmental studies and planning, kinesiology, liberal studies, pre-nursing, psychology and sociology.

“We are looking for someone who is willing to serve students and who is looking to put students first,” said AS Executive Vice President Rachel McCloskey. McCloskey is also the student representative in the provost hiring committee. “Advising is an area I would like to see the new provost work on. We need to put a lot more time and effort into advising in order to increase the four year graduation rate,” she said.

Students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to attend Vollendrof’s open forum on Wednesday. 

“All the candidates have the right qualities,” McCloskey said. “This is an important position, so we want to make sure we have the best team and we are very confident about this group.”

For more information on the candidates, visit http://www.sonoma.edu/jobs.