Jim Wohlpart was named Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Northern Iowa effective June 1, 2015. Jim spent the previous twenty-one years assisting with the opening and establishment of Florida Gulf Coast University, a new public university in the state of Florida with an emphasis on service learning, sustainability, and innovative undergraduate education. He served in the roles of Chair of the Division of Humanities and Arts (2000-2005), Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences (2005-2011), and Dean of Undergraduate Studies (2011-2015).
Jim earned his PhD in English from the University of Tennessee, his MA in English from Colorado State University, and his BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He has published widely in sustainability, environmental literature and philosophy, and nineteenth-century American literature. He has won awards for teaching and course design, for scholarship, and for developing partnerships across academic affairs, student affairs, and athletics.
Provost's Goals for AY 2015-2016
During my first year as Provost and Executive Vice President I will get to know the systems and processes and the people central to the functioning of the university. I will also get to know people in the local community so that I can participate in elevating the relationship between the university and community. Working across the university, I will seek to build collaborative relationships that will advance the institution’s Vision, Mission, and Goals; in my role as Provost I will collaborate with other divisions to build partnerships for this work. Working with leaders in Academic Affairs, we will build a strong team through conversations and discussions about our philosophy, approach, and values and through leadership development activities. I will also work towards building a culture of data-informed, collaborative and inclusive, transparent decision-making. Ultimately, my work as the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is to support the faculty and staff as they create learning opportunities for students; student engagement and success will be paramount in all I do.
During the course of the first year, I will work in three broad areas: organizational structure, strategic planning, and community development. Specific goals include the following:
• Engage in a conversation about the structure of the Academic Affairs Council in order to determine the best structure and strategy for effectively making decisions.
• Engage in a conversation about the structure of the Provost’s office, including the various Assistant/Associate Provost positions. This will include engaging the request on the part of the Graduate Council to split the Dean of the Graduate College from the position of Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, as well as other elements.
• Invite the faculty and staff to begin a conversation about the structure of the academic colleges, with the intention to make certain that we have the ability to communicate effectively and make decisions in a collaborative and transparent manner. The ultimate structure of the colleges should support the work of the faculty in their teaching, scholarship, and service and bridge relations across colleges, divisions, and the community.
• Create a working group to consider the role and make-up of the Office of Undergraduate Studies.
• Complete a successful search for the Dean of the College of Education, and through the process of the search work to elevate the status of Teacher Education at the University of Northern Iowa in the state, region, and nation.
• Complete the Academic Master Plan, with clear vision, mission, goals, and objectives, along with actionable assessment strategies and reporting mechanisms. The Academic Master Plan must be positioned to provide a clear direction for Academic Affairs.
• Create a mechanism for the university community to assist in the development and selection of a Quality Initiative project topic for our HLC accreditation; submit proposal by Fall 2016.
• Develop Strategic Initiatives for Teacher Education that will position our programs for further state and national recognition.
• Work with the Senior Vice President of Administration and Financial Services, Michael Hager to develop meaningful and useful budget reports and to develop a budgeting model and practice that allows us to be proactive, mission-driven, and innovative, and with the Vice President for Advancement, Lisa Baronio, to develop a fundraising program aligned with our academic goals.
• Support the academic leaders and the faculty, staff, and students of the university through listening to needs, concerns, and aspirations and providing direction and leadership for responding to these items; this will include my active involvement in visiting colleges and departments, working with students, and listening to staff.
• Work towards development of a culture of celebration and acknowledgement of outstanding work; this could include review of the evaluation process, celebration events, and personal notifications. Evaluations should be focused on celebrating outstanding work and offering opportunities for continuous improvement.
• Work to create leadership development opportunities for the Academic Affairs Council, Department Heads, and others interested in leadership development. This could include reading and discussing such texts as “The Servant Leader” by Robert Greenleaf or selections from The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge.
• Work with the Vice President for Student Affairs, Terry Hogan, on continuing the rich collaboration between our offices to elevate student engagement and success.
• Work with the Faculty Senate, United Faculty, and Student Government to deepen transparency, enhance our culture of collaboration, and continue to improve morale.
I welcome feedback from the university community regarding these goals, and will ask for input regarding my performance at the end of the year.