Provost search continues: Radson visits campus, fields questions

Ryan Quinn/ Photo Editor

An open forum for the third provost candidate, Darrell Radson, Ph.D., was held in the BSC on Tuesday, Feb. 17.  Members of the Saint Louis University community including faculty, students and staff questioned Radson on a variety of topics, including diversity, adjunct faculty and strategic planning.

Radson began the forum with a general overview of his past experience, credentials and vision for the provost position.  If accepted, he plans to establish a solid culture of lay leadership. He placed a strong emphasis on the importance of developing a community of ideas.  That, he said, is the only way innovation is going to happen.

Radson quickly summed up SLU’s current status: “New president. New spirit. New outlook.”  He described the position of provost as a type of leadership position responsible for the growth of the people, as well as the community.  A heavy emphasis on establishing a culture of trust was mentioned throughout his speech.

Provost: Third candidate speaks to SLU community

Radson earned his Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan.  He stated that knowledge in industrial engineering helped him observe how things can improve.

He is familiar with the importance of a Jesuit education. He previously worked as associate dean at John Carroll University, a Jesuit institution in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was in that position with a Jesuit institution when he realized his admiration for building a community of ideas and support.

Radson acknowledged that he is proud of his experience with a wide variety of institutions – large, small, private, public – and as a variety of position – faculty member, associate dean and dean.

“I think it is important for a provost to understand the challenges of all positions,” Radson said.

Radson also made a connection between his experience as a business dean and how that training can contribute to a provost position.  With a desire to establish more multidisciplinary and collaborative programs throughout SLU, Radson described his appreciation for project-based learning opportunities and how they are important for students.  Specific to his plans for interacting with SLU students, if elected as provost, he hopes to establish  student advisory committees and work in relation with the Student Government Association.

Radson spent the remaining time of the forum answering various questions.  One question asked for Radson’s view on how to ensure diversity amongst staff and the student body.  He responded that studies show that unconscious bias is present among admissions processes, and he talked about the importance of removing that bias.

A separate question asked for Radson’s vision of shared governance. Radson made a correlation between shared governance and transparency, claiming they go “hand-in-hand.”  He acknowledged the amount of intelligent people who work at a University and the need for discussion and collaboration of ideas. His response concluded with an emphasis of the importance of shared governance to a university, saying that shared governance allows for disagreement, which is important.

The questions continued with the issue of leadership relations toward staff.   In response, he recognized the importance of a culture of mutual respect within any university. Radson drew attention to a current respect issue at SLU between administration and staff.  He emphasized the role of community within a university and the vital role staff plays on a daily basis.

“We all have different responsibilities but we’re working for the same team.” He summed up his response simply, “We are all in this together.”

One member of the audience in particular, professor and department chair Dr. Ellen Carnaghan, commented, “It is wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with the candidates for the provost position, to listen to their goals, and to try to imagine the kinds of leaders they will be. Dr. Radson was very forthright in answering our questions, and I think everyone who attended learned quite a lot about him.”

Radson currently works as Dean of the Foster College of Business at Bradley University.  Extensive information about each provost candidate can be found on the Saint Louis University Provost Search webpage.


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