CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University’s first candidate out of four seeking the top academic position on campus has a mission-centered but market-oriented view on how academics should function, according to a faculty open session Thursday.
Tim Crowley was the first provost and vice president of Academic Affairs candidate to come to Eastern for tours and interviews with the campus community.
Hailing from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., Crowley, current FHSU assistant provost for academic programs and student success, touched on his history and the history of his university as an example of the success that can come out of his university’s rule of thinking.
Crowley said like in Illinois, albeit under different circumstances, the State of Kansas seems reluctant to fund higher education.
“I live in a red state,” he said. “They are not interested in funding higher education… Our latest administration has wanted to starve the beast. Higher education is a part of state government and the thought is to make state government smaller.”
On top of this, his university is housed in a depopulating part of the state. Crowley said it is more and more clear and evident that the university cannot rely entirely on the state to fix its issues.
“We have always looked at things through whether it is mission-centered,” Crowley said. “The second question we ask is if it is market smart. The idea that higher education has been above, on top of a mountain and never wanted to engage in the realities of the trading and the market is really a false one.”
He said an institution can be market-smart as long as it does not negatively affect the mission.
During the open session with faculty, Crowley cited two programs that were implemented at his university, which he saw as successful avenues in enhancing academics to be more market-focused.
One avenue he mentioned was focused on adopting online programing. He said online programming opened up who the university could educate outside of their state.
However, Crowley said it is still just as important to maintain a strong on-campus community.
Crowley said forming international relationships also is a successful program his university undertook. FHSU formed relationships with Chinese universities, which Crowley said has been a fruitful venture.
However, international relationships and online academic courses and programs are only some pieces of the puzzle.
“I think enrollment management is probably one of the critical things to be worked on here,” Crowley said. “I think that runs the gamut of which online learning is just a piece.”
Crowley is coming from a bigger university, at least in terms of enrollment, with more than 12,000 students.
The second EIU provost candidate is expected to visit from March 27-29. He or she has not been named.
In the position, the incoming provost would oversee academic departments and various services including financial aid, admissions, the library, minority affairs and others. The provost is a second to the university president, according to a description of the position on the EIU provost search web page.