TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, February 05, 2004
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Donovan outlines plan to improve academics
Faculty members take a look at provost candidate Nowell Donovan’s plans for the university.


By Jarod Daily
Staff Reporter


Provost candidate Nowell Donovan stressed the significance of the liberal arts and sciences in shaping and improving the leaders of tomorrow in a forum for faculty and staff Wednesday.

The liberal arts and sciences are a tapestry upon which the greatest thoughts, accomplishments and hopes for the future of the human race are recorded, said Donovan, chairman of the TCU geology department.

“In the academic community, we are the guardians of this tapestry,” he said. “We are charged with connecting what is best in the human community through time into the future.”

Donovan is one of three final candidates for the position of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs along with Florida International University chemistry professor Arthur Herriott and Michael Mezey, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul University.

Donovan said complementing professional programs such as business or engineering with a liberal arts outlook has enhanced the education students in those disciplines get at TCU.

“What we’re really trying to do is achieve a left brain/right brain equilibrium at TCU,” he said. “We should enjoy both the liberal arts and our professional programs and recognize that they can both be centers of excellence.

“I consider the resolution of the tension (between the liberal arts and the professional programs) one of the prime responsibilities of the provost.”

However, the liberal arts should not make academics inaccessible to the rest of society, Donovan said.

“We will not succeed in a mission of changing the community we live in and making it a richer and better place if we are an ivory tower,” he said.

Donovan also outlined various improvements to the university’s model of teaching he would make as provost.

He said he thinks senior faculty have a better outlook on their disciplines to teach introductory-level courses than do younger professors.

“I would like to see an engagement by senior faculty in teaching freshman courses,” he said. “I think our endowed chairs should take a lead.”

Donovan also said re-evaluation of faculty members should include more than just student evaluations.

Groups of teachers should come together to “talk about each others’ performance and have a conversation about how they can collectively improve,” he said.

Religion professor David Grant addressed the concern some faculty members have expressed that Donovan’s lack of administrative experience could get in the way of being an effective provost.

Donovan said he would go to those who know about the management aspects of such a job and become a student.

“It’s an enormous amount to learn,” he said. “I’m not walking away from that, I realize it’s a very serious commitment.”

Faculty interviewed after the forum were very impressed with Donovan’s presentation.

“It was well organized and given in an inspired fashion, and tremendously well presented,” music professor Blaise Ferrandino said.
Donovan
Ty Halasz/Staff Photographer
Provost candidate Nowell Donovan, the geology department chairman, speaks to an assembly of faculty and staff Wednesday.
 
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