Miami’s Provost Will Inherit $50 Million Initiative and Mandate to Connect Town and Gown

By Rebecca Huff

Strong relations between the city of Oxford and Miami University rest in the hands of Miami’s next provost.

“What happens to students outside of the classroom often impacts what happens in the classroom. Since the Provost is the chief academic officer, they should understand that the success of Oxford can help attract (or turn off) prospective students,” said Jayne Brownell, Miami’s vice president of student life. “The Oxford culture can set a tone for how students spend their time. And their quality of life can impact their academic success.”

When Phyllis Callahan announced her retirement Jan. 24, 2018 after serving 6 years as provost,  four candidates were selected as the finalists for the position: Debra A. Schwinn, associate vice president for medical affairs at the University of Iowa; David V. Rosowsky, former provost and senior vice president at the University of Vermont; Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, dean of the college of liberal arts social sciences at DePaul University; and Jason W. Osborne, associate provost and dean of the graduate school at Clemson University.

“We are thrilled to be hosting four exceptional, highly-qualified, proven academic leaders, who are exploring the possibility of becoming our provost,” said President Gregory Crawford.

The Provost serves as the university’s chief academic officer, but the role entails much more than setting academic policy. Both Brownell and Oxford City Council Member Glenn Ellerbe agree that the Provost can make an important impact outside the walls of Miami University.

He or she will inherit the school’s Boldly Creative Initiative, a $50 million plan with a long-term sustainability outlook, dedicated to funding academic programs and research projects that will better prepare students, advance their knowledge and enhance partnerships.

“A provost can support the Oxford community by building partnerships through service-learning courses and other project-based learning options for students,” Brownell said.

Ellerbe suggested a movie theater and an art project that focused on creating murals on the walls of Oxford businesses, much like the ones located in downtown Hamilton. He would like the new Provost to “lobby to the Board of Trustees for more town and gown involvement as it pertains to investment in the town.”

“If the Provost says community service should be a tenant of the academic rigor of a Miami student then you’re going to see a lot more philanthropy, a lot more community service,” Ellerbe said.

He describes it as a “ripple effect.”