Alma College invites expressions of interest for the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs to begin in the summer of 2023. We seek a transformational leader who will collaborate with our outstanding faculty to advance the mission of the college and support innovative learning experiences in a student-centered academic community, while maintaining focus on academic excellence and the liberal arts core of the college. The provost will report to President Jeff Abernathy, the 13th president of the college, who has served in that position since 2010. The provost is an integral member of the president’s cabinet and works collaboratively with the president and other vice presidents to provide leadership for strategic priorities and for implementation of established policies. Dr. Janie Diels currently serves as interim provost.
About Alma College
Alma College is a private, independent four-year liberal arts college located in the city of Alma in the geographic center of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The college is situated on 125 acres and owns a 200-acre ecological research station. Alma was founded in 1886 by the Presbyterian Synod of Michigan and is governed by an independent Board of Trustees. Its Phi Beta Kappa chapter is one of only eight in the State of Michigan. Enrollment averages 15 Masters of Fine Arts students and 1,340 undergraduate students, typically drawn from approximately 30 states and eight countries. The average high school GPA of entering students is 3.5. Nearly all of Alma’s students are traditional college age and live in campus housing. The college currently awards six degrees—Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and Master of Science in Communication Information Technology. The faculty have designed over 45 programs of study, including the addition of more than 16 new majors since 2010. The next provost will play a lead role in facilitating the addition of new undergraduate and graduate programs.
A Tradition of Academic Excellence
An Alma education seeks to instill a love of learning and celebrate the joy of discovery. Each Alma student experiences a deeply interdisciplinary education that provides opportunity for self-reflection, hands-on learning, and personal and professional development. The Alma education provides students with engaged learning opportunities in local, national and global contexts; facilitates strong mentoring relationships; and integrates rapidly changing technology essential for current and future career paths.
The college is committed to providing programs and activities for students to
• study across a broad academic spectrum;
• cultivate lifelong intellectual, spiritual, and vocational discovery;
• study in depth within a disciplinary area;
• focus on the human values that undergird the worth of individuals and the welfare of society; and
• appreciate the wholeness of knowledge and the value judgments that are basic to wise decision-making.
Alma College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, having received re-accreditation in 2019-20. Specific programs of the college are also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the American Chemical Society. Recent national recognition for the college includes
• No. 12 in Regional Colleges Midwest by U.S. News and World Report
• Princeton Review’s Best in the Midwest listing (18th year)
• Fiske Guide to Colleges listing of the 300 “best and most interesting schools in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain” (36nd year)
• Colleges of Distinction (15th year)
Organization of the Academic Sector
The Board of Trustees has delegated responsibility for the curriculum to the president, provost, and the faculty. Under the leadership and guidance of the provost, the faculty has primary responsibility for determining the academic programs, educational policy, academic standards, and instructional procedures. Alma College employs 103 full-time teaching faculty of whom 82% hold the Ph.D. or other terminal degree. The student–faculty ratio at Alma is 12:1, and the average class size is 18. The faculty are organized into three divisions—humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The Provost’s Office full-time staff includes the provost, associate provost, assistant provost, and executive assistant. The registrar, the director of libraries, and the director of the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence also report directly to the provost.
In 2020, the college revised its strategic plan, entitled Evergreen, with five priorities:
- Purpose and Place. As citizens of this place, we must deepen our efforts to model citizenship for our students by committing to improving Alma and Gratiot County. We will develop and promote a culture on campus of environmental sustainability and work to reduce the college’s carbon footprint to ensure that we are protecting the environment around us.
- Creating a Just and Inclusive Community. We must become a more diverse and inclusive campus community. We must also invest in our faculty and staff, value and support the good work that they do to help students, and hold each other accountable for any actions that do not support our community expectations. We will build a holistic culture of inclusion on campus by utilizing the campus-wide diversity, equity and inclusion assessment to gain a better understanding of the campus climate, learn more about our current successes and shortcomings, prioritize and implement next steps based on the assessment recommendations, and share findings and next steps in a timely and transparent manner.
- New Programs and Innovation. While staying true to its liberal arts core, the college must develop new programs, offer new avenues for learning, and serve new markets. We will implement five new graduate programs and enroll 60 graduate students by fall 2023. Experiential Learning.
- Experiential learning opportunities, along with our career development programming, must become a statement of excellence for Alma College. We will launch a broad signature initiative focused on public service and engaged learning that expands service-learning opportunities and service experiences and is a central expression of the mission of the college.
- Financial Vitality. The college cannot thrive on the edge of financial viability. We need to be creating a budget surplus that can be reinvested into our core liberal arts curriculum. We will spend responsibly, strategically, and consistently with our mission and values while aiming for efficiencies across campus, and invest in growth and infrastructure.
The Leadership Opportunity
The next provost will join a college administration, faculty, and community that are passionate about their commitment to outstanding students, focusing on teaching and learning through the liberal arts and sciences in a way that drives academic excellence. The College seeks an academic leader who will be a strong advocate for faculty and support their work, advance the mission of the College, and facilitate innovation in all academic areas.
Our provost will set the stage for an even brighter future by executing the following leadership priorities:
- advance and promote the mission of Alma College
- build community and articulate a bold, unifying, shared academic vision focused on the liberal arts and grounded in the best practices to support diversity, equity, and inclusion
- strengthen and renew a commitment to academic excellence
- stimulate a culture of innovation and growth
- together with faculty and administration, lead ongoing conversations about graduate program development and enrollment
- explore how best to integrate and expand technology within academic programs.
Desired Attributes of Our Next Provost:
The provost will model servant leadership reflective of the culture of the Alma College community; be a strategic thinker and planner, a confident decision-maker who possesses an astute understanding of the challenges facing small, liberal arts colleges today; and be an inspiring, collaborative and visionary academic leader. Our new provost will support faculty scholarship and grant-seeking activities as part of faculty development. We seek an exceptional candidate who welcomes diverse perspectives, works to build consensus, and provides clear feedback. Additionally, the provost will be an effective communicator and trusted partner, proficient in budget management, focused on the student experience, and committed to shared governance.
Alma College strives to be an inclusive community grounded in the arts and sciences, committed to social justice, and resolute in its belief that all people are deserving of dignity and respect. Our provost will actively lead our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice efforts by intentionally attracting, welcoming, and supporting an even more diverse and inclusive faculty and staff.
Desired candidates will possess an earned doctorate and an exceptional record of academic achievement, including teaching, research and service sufficient to merit a tenured academic appointment.
For full consideration, submissions should include:
• Letter of interest that responds to the leadership qualities outlined in this document
• Curriculum vitae
• Names, email addresses and phone numbers of five references. References will not be contacted without permission of the candidate.
Please submit application materials in PDF format to Professor Ben Munisteri, chair of the Provost Search Committee, at [email protected] by October 24, 2022 for best consideration. Confidential inquiries may also be addressed to Ben Munisteri at this email address.