Provost candidate calls for broad approach to budget issues, expanded graduate studies

Friday, December 4, 2009
Tom Erekson

Dr. Thomas Erekson said answers to the anticipated budget issues for faculty and staff at Southeast Missouri State University will require a broad approach.

"I don't ride a white horse, and I don't carry silver bullets," he said during an afternoon meeting with about 15 faculty and staff. His strategy, he said, would be transparent, include input from many people and consider long-term goals.

Erekson is the second of three candidates for provost to interview on campus for the position. The university conducted a nationwide search to find a replacement for Dr. Jane Stephens, who announced her retirement in May. She held the position for 10 years.

A provost is a senior administrative officer who acts as a faculty liaison on issues such as budgeting.

Erekson said he likes the university's approach to budget issues. Past strategies included open meetings and staff forums.

"I get the sense that people count here," he said.

Erekson is the dean of the College of Business and Technology at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. The university, which enrolls 13,400 students, is about 150 miles north of St. Louis.

Erekson also held positions at the University of Wyoming, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland in College Park, Bowling Green State University and Brigham Young University.

In response to questions about budget issues and program expansion, Erekson said the university's goals should be the frame of reference.

"You can't just do everything based on return," he said. "Does it fit the mission?"

He said he supports expanding graduate studies because having graduate students helps attract better faculty, he said.

"That's the key, because if we don't have the right faculty we might as well shut the doors and turn out the lights," he said.

He said universities should also start comparing themselves to industries in addition to other universities. He said institutions could learn how to align their resources by studying the practices of other companies.

Dr. Kathleen Rountree, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Ithaca College, held similar discussions Tuesday. Dr. Ronald Rosati, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Alfred State College in Alfred, N.Y., will also interview for the position. He will hold forums at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today in the University Center's program lounge.

Following input from faculty, staff and students, Southeast regents will consider a recommendation for the position during their Dec. 17 meeting.


Pertinent address:

One University Plaza Cape Girardeau, MO

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