Today is Monday, October 20

Q&A with Provost Beth Paul

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Dr. Paul discussed her involvement with the map drafting process and what she thinks of the university’s direction

Editor’s note: Provost Paul answered these questions via email. Any changes to her answers or The Reporter’s questions were made to reflect grammatical accuracy.

What is your role at Stetson and how long have you worked here?

I am honored to serve Stetson as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, in other words the Chief Academic Officer of the university. I joined Stetson one week after President Libby began her presidency – in July, 2009.  We have been leading the university forward ever since.

What was your involvement with the strategic map?

I have helped to orchestrate the university-wide process of developing the vision, strategy and objectives that will lead our action over the next five years. The university retained a national expert in strategic plan development, Tim Fallon of TSI Consulting, Inc., to work with us in developing and implementing a planning process that was inclusive of all of the different stakeholders of the university. That helped inspire and frame the university’s future aspirations.

What do they think about the strategic map overall? Does it address the most pressing concerns?

I am pleased with the draft strategic map that has resulted from our year-long participatory development process. For the last few weeks, President Libby and I have been talking through the draft map with various constituent groups [to get]their feedback. The more I interact with the map and hear people’s thoughts about it, the more inspired I am by it. The new draft map builds in important ways on the strategic map that is now in the final stages of implementation. I am confident that the new map will guide important advancements in the academic program, continuing to build upon Stetson’s transformative learning environment.

What do you think was left out of the strategic map that should have been included?

Strategic planning involves making choices.  No organization (or individual) can do all things and be all things to all people.  I think this plan makes good choices about ways to move Stetson forward.  I don’t see any glaring omissions.

Are there any unnecessary parts of the strategic map?

No.

What are some things that Stetson does well, and some things it needs to improve?  

There are many aspects of Stetson’s mission at which we excel. We invest in people as individuals and focus on fostering the development of the whole person. We recognize the importance of reflection on values as a valuable learning process. Stetson University is worthy of national recognition as an important institution of higher learning.  As we move forward, we need to push ourselves to do what it takes to be recognized for our strengths, and to lead proudly forward.

You’ve been provost and vice president of academic affairs for about five years. How has the state of academic affairs now compare to when you were first put into the position? What are some positive changes, and what are you looking toward to future to possibly implement?​

It is wonderful to see so many faculty and academic leaders investing new thinking and energy in Stetson’s academic program. And, as we bring more students to Stetson, we are also bringing excellent new faculty to Stetson. Stetson’s long-time commitment to learning that is rigorous and engaging is thriving, resulting in academic programs that are incorporating new approaches and learning experiences that are inspiring and powerful for our students. We will continue to deliberately build new experiential learning opportunities for students, including study abroad, research and creative opportunities, internships, community-engaged learning and performances near and far. And we will help create opportunities for students and faculty to cross disciplinary boundaries to study issues and areas with novel approaches that increase both breadth and depth of understanding.

In general, how do you see Stetson’s future? Where are we headed, and what are some of the possible obstacles we need to overcome? When it’s all said and done, what do you think we’ll be looking at?​

Stetson’s future is very bright! The approach to education to which Stetson has long been committed is badly needed in our world. We need people in our world who can dive into unknown territory, think critically, work inclusively with diverse others, develop an incisive and principled plan, communicate effectively, act courageously and reflect wisely. This requires the same approach to leadership by all involved in the university. The approach to education needed to develop such people is becoming devalued in public, policy and media discourse, and it is stressed by economic pressures. Stetson is steadfast in our commitment to this kind of transformative education, and will be for decades to come.

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