Four new candidates emerge in provost search

The Oakland University Provost Search Committee has selected four new finalists to tour OU and interview for the position of provost, according to the Provost Search website.

This comes after the previous two finalists withdrew from consideration last month.

According to Search Committee Chair and Political Science Professor Dave Dulio, three of the four provost candidates are scheduled to tour OU’s campus within the next month. The committee is working with the fourth candidate to schedule a tour.

Dr. Louay Chamra

Dr. Louay Chamra, current dean of OU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, is the only finalist to come from within OU. Chamra also sits on the board of directors for the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Chamra has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from University of Texas Austin, a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from University of Portland and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Almost one year ago, a group of professors within Chamra’s department expressed their concerns and filed a non-formal vote of no confidence against the dean.

Chamra is scheduled to tour OU April 12 and April 15.

Dr. James P. Lentini

Dr. James P. Lentini is the current Dean of Creative Arts for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to that, Lentini served as dean of the College of New Jersey’s School of Art, Media and Music as well as serving as a professor of music. Lentini has also taught at Wayne State University and was chair of the school’s Department of Music.

Lentini has a Bachelor of Music in Composition, Theory and Classical Guitar from Wayne State University. He received his Master of Music degree from Michigan State University and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California.

Lentini is scheduled to visit campus April 17-18.

Dr. Anil K. Puri

Anil K. Puri, Ph.D., serves as the dean of the Institute of Economic and Environmental Studies at Californa State University. Puri served in that position since 1992. He has also served as the executive director of Western Economic Association International and the chair of CSU’s Department of Economics.

Puri has earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in economics from Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. Puri also has a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota.

Puri is scheduled to visit OU’s campus April 22-23.

Ian R. Davison, Ph.D.

Ian R. Davison, Ph.D., is the dean of Central Michigan University’s College of Science and Technology, as well as a professor of biology. He has worked as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and as a professor and the director of the Maine Sea Grant for the University of Maine.

Davison has a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in biological sciences from the University of London. He earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Davison is currently involved in a lawsuit against himself, CMU President George Ross and CMU Provost E. Gary Shapiro, according to MLive. Former CMU geology professor Kathleen Benison and her husband Christopher Benison are suing the CMU officials for more than $75,000.  The former professor said she was was unfairly denied a pay raise, and the university has demanded Benison pay back compensation paid to her while on sabbatical.

The Provost Search Committee and Davison are working to pick a date for him to tour.

Provost search status

“We’re actually in a good spot,” Dulio said. “We spent several days interviewing a pared-down list of those candidates — eight in total. We’ve invited four back. Included in that list are some original applicants and some new applicants.”

All four candidates currently serve as deans of their current institutions, but Dulio said that isn’t a requirement.

“It’s not like, ‘if you’re not a dean, you can’t be provost,’” Dulio said. “We had a very successful provost for 10 years that was never a dean. So that was not one of our checkmarks. You can come to the provost position from a number of different positions. In our last pool, (we had) folks who all were not deans. But we just do this time. It’s the traditional path to the provost position.”

Duilo said it is “absolutely feasible” to have a provost in place by the original deadline of July 1. Samantha Wolf, 2012-13 OU Student Congress President, did not put as much importance on deadlines.

“I think it’s more important that we do find the best person instead of putting a date down,” Wolf said. “So I’m not really sure on the date of when this process will be over. It will end when we get the best provost for OU.”

Finding the best person for the job

Both Dulio and Wolf said they felt it was important for the provost to act as an advocate for the faculty and students.

“We want somebody who will advocate for academic affairs, advocate for its top position at the university, and somebody who will maintain the centrality of academic affairs,” Dulio said.

“They need to be an advocate for student success,” Wolf said. “To me, student success isn’t just determined in the classroom. A provost particularly aids in the faculty experience and helping faculty get what they need. But when it comes to success, they need to look in the classroom and outside of the classroom.”

The candidates’ credentials and biographies are available on a Google Doc accessible from the Oakland University Provost Search page, Users must be logged into an Oakland University email address to access the document.