While many are familiar with St. Cloud State University’s new interim president Ashish Vaidya, most students are unfamiliar with who else assists the University in its day to day operations in the academic environment.
The University Chronicle had a chance to sit down with Interim Provost Dan Gregory this past week and discuss what he does in his position and how he plans to carry SCSU into the future.
Gregory has been on the SCSU campus for 17 years, 9 of them in the chemistry department as a professor and 3 years as the department chair. As he worked his way through the rankings, Gregory became part of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, where he worked in graduate studies. His last stop before becoming the interim provost was acting as dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
“After the loss of Potter in the spring, I took over Vaidya’s position as provost and he became the interim president,” Gregory said.
His position will last for two years, but if he decides to apply for it full time, which Gregory says he could, the MnSCU system will still have to look for applicants from across the nation.
“I haven’t really made a decision yet; I was happy being the dean for the College of Science and Engineering,” he said.
For those who may not understand the structure of the University administration system, the provost is in charge of the academic portion of the college. That consists of classes, curriculums, programs, records and registration and admissions. Gregory says his work overlaps with Student Life and Development, but his job is more about making sure the school system is working for its student body.
“Our number one priority is student success. What we mean by that is students are developing successful careers,” Gregory said. “There are a lot of different pieces to that; we have to make sure students are successful in the classroom, giving them the support they need in the classroom, but also give them support in life as well because there are all kinds of issues that come up with life.”
There has been a lot of talk in the University Administration about changes they want to make in order to move the University forward. While his appointment as provost could only last for two years, Gregory says that they have a lot of work to do.
“Higher education is changing across the nation and we need to be part of that change,” he said. “Our approach is to figure out what different students need to be successful; we are continuing a project from last year that we started called “Imagining the First Year.” It’s a set of different projects and programs we’re creating to help students at all different levels during their time here. We’re reworking our orientation program to get the students more adjusted to on campus life and rethinking how we advise students and really integrating career paths. I’m not at a place where I’m just going to float over things, I want to get things done.”
Along with major changes, there has been a lot of talk about the accreditation check that is coming up in November. Gregory says that’s why SCSU is emphasizing a lot on its programs to ensure student success.
“The HLC (Higher Learning Commission) is looking at both parts of our campus to examine our reaccreditation,” Gregory said. “They will take a look at both our academic rigor and our extracurriculars to ensure that we are providing our students everything they need to fulfill life, work, and citizenship in the 21st century.”
Gregory also says that students should come in and talk to him about any questions or concerns they have with the University.