University Politics

One year after she was appointed as provost, here are the highlights of Michele Wheatly’s tenure thus far

Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor

Michele Wheatly was appointed as Syracuse University’s vice chancellor and provost in early March 2016.

Michele Wheatly was appointed as Syracuse University’s vice chancellor and provost in early March 2016. In the year since then, she’s overseen several key initiatives related to the academic side of the university.

Here are some of the highlights from her time as provost thus far:

 

Academic Strategic Plan implementation

When she was appointed, Wheatly was immediately tasked with leading the implementation of SU’s Academic Strategic Plan. As one component in Chancellor Kent Syverud’s three-part Fast Forward initiative, the ASP sets an academic vision for the university and outlines plans to meet that vision in the coming years.

Wheatly is currently developing the budget and a funding strategy for the ASP, something that Syverud announced during his address to the campus community in January.

Wheatly said in an interview earlier this year she has been meeting with key university stakeholders to gather input on funding and develop the budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The university’s budget will support the ASP, so a separate budget just for the ASP will not be necessary.

The top priority of the fiscal year, she also said, will be channeling the Office of Research to provide research support to faculty.

 

Maxwell dean controversy

It didn’t take long into Wheatly’s time as provost for a controversial decision to be made. In June, she announced that she was suspending the search for the next dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

A week later, Wheatly appointed David Van Slyke to the position after he had served as chair of the search committee that was disbanded for, Wheatly said, not finding a candidate who could engender support and generate excitement in the community.

The appointment process frustrated a number of faculty members, who called it undemocratic and said they were never consulted prior to Van Slyke’s appointment, despite Wheatly’s claim that she sought the opinions of people throughout the school community.

Wheatly, though, later denied that there wasn’t enough faculty consultation. She also said that “though the timing might suggest otherwise,” the suspension of the search committee and the appointment of Van Slyke as dean were unrelated and disconnected processes.

 

Firing of Whitman dean and ensuing search

Wheatly was thrown a curveball in September, when then-Whitman School dean Kenneth Kavajecz was abruptly removed from his position after being arrested on charges related to prostitution.

Kavajecz was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of patronizing a person for prostitution in the third degree in the town of Salina. Authorities said Kavajecz allegedly agreed to pay $80 to an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute on March 9, 2016, at the Candlewood Suites on South Bay Road in Salina. His arrest was part of a larger prostitution sting.

Following Kavajecz’s arrest, the university named Mike Haynie the school’s acting dean. Wheatly later appointed S.P. Raj, a marketing professor, to serve as the school’s interim dean.

In mid-November, Wheatly appointed 14 members of the SU community to serve on the search committee for the next dean of the school.

 

Faculty Salary Review Committee

In November, Wheatly announced the creation of the Faculty Salary Review Committee as well as the appointment of 18 faculty members and administrators to the committee.

Since then, the committee has been reviewing faculty salary data, including the average salary of faculty members across faculty rank, gender and schools and colleges. That data is similar to the data that was formerly compiled in the Committee Z report, a public record that compared average faculty salaries across gender, schools and colleges and other factors. SU stopped making its Committee Z report public in 2014.

The salary review committee plans to share data with the campus community, though it is unclear to what degree and in how much detail.

 

Campus Framework development

With the Campus Framework meant to work in tandem with the ASP, Wheatly has been involved with the continued implementation of the Framework. She is the co-chair of the Campus Facilities Advisory Board, which will evaluate the Campus Framework’s academic and non-academic investments.

The board, which was announced and met for the first time last month, will also look to improve transparency in decisions made related to the Campus Framework.

Wheatly also led an open forum last week related to the Campus Framework, during which she took questions from faculty and announced the university is considering a three-year on-campus housing requirement for students.

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