Fourth chancellor candidate: Work at Texas Tech supports SIU priorities

Fourth chancellor candidate: Work at Texas Tech supports SIU priorities

By Luke Nozicka, @lukenozicka

When Lawrence Schovanec, one of four people who want to be the campus’ incoming chancellor, spoke at his open forum interview Thursday, he boasted of enrollment increases at his university, saying strategies used there could be implemented at SIU. 

Schovanec, who became provost and senior vice president at Texas Tech University in January 2013, said his work at Texas Tech “is relevant and supports the ambitions and priorities” of SIU.

Administrator invested in graduate student enrollment 

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Texas Tech has seen a 17 percent increase in its enrollment during the last five years, totaling more than 35,000. As provost, Schovanec said he is focused on graduate student enrollment, which has grown 11 percent during his time in office.

“We appointed a dean who also holds the title of vice provost for graduate affairs,” he told the crowd in Guyon Auditorium. 

He said while SIU has done a good job at increasing its international student enrollment, there are other sources of revenue that can be ventured. 

“There are more than 50 million adults in this country that have some college education, and did a survey, and more than half want to go back and get their degree,” he said. “You have to look for niche programs. There’s potential for growth especially in certain master’s or certificates.” 

He said he sees similarities between Texas Tech and SIU, noting the two’s “geological isolation.”

“The distance from Chicago to here is about the same as the distance from Lubbock to Dallas, and that’s where we get most of our students,” he said. “I noticed that you have more students from Cook County than any other place. I don’t understand why you don’t have more students from St. Louis.” 

Schovanec, the only candidate to not use a slideshow presentation during the forum, said Texas Tech recently began using the smart phone app Snapchat to connect with potential students. He said it is “imperative” that diversity at universities match that of the entire country.

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“Because of the demographics of Texas… it is one of our top priorities to be a Hispanic serving institution,” he said during his 15-minute introduction. 

Schovanec — who has served as Texas Tech’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics — said the decrease of SIU’s tenure-track faculty is alarming, which is down about 20 percent from five years ago.

“If it makes you feel any better, I looked to see how much they’ve reduced administrative appointments — it’s down 27, 28 [percent],” he jokingly said. 

When Texas Tech went through cuts in 2009 and 2010, Schovanec said it protected the academic core, something SIU President Randy Dunn has said he will do if SIU’s state funding is slashed by nearly 32 percent. 

Schovanec, who earned his doctorate in mathematics from Indiana University, said when he looked at SIU’s strategic plan he counted 13 goals, which he called a lot. Texas Tech has five: enrollment, increase academic reputation, enhance research and creative activity, span outreach of engagement and maximize resources. 

“Most of the people know them because we’ve been harping on these for years,” he told the crowd. 

Asked about student engagement in decision making, Schovanec said Texas Tech has “a process where the students determine the fee structure,” although he did not go into further detail. 

Schovanec, who received a master’s from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Phillips University in Oklahoma, said he enjoys fundraising as well. 

“I always told faculty, I love to take you on those [fundraising] trips,” he said. “You might behave differently when you’re teaching college algebra if you knew that guy in the back row someday was going to give a million dollars.” 

One of 12 children, avid runner

Schovanec, who was raised in Oklahoma, is one of 12 children. He said his appreciation for higher education came from his parents. 

“They would always tell us, ‘There is not going to be much to provide when we pass on, but well give you a college education,” said Schovanec, who previously told the Daily Egyptian he enjoys running five miles a day. “And all 11 of my brothers and sisters did receive a college degree. That’s the best gift they could’ve given us.”

Luke Nozicka can be reached at [email protected]

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