By: Brock Bowen
WORCESTER – Worcester State University is in search of a new provost now that Charles E. Cullum has left the position to teach in the WSU English Department. Though many applied for the position, only the three most qualified applicants – Dr. John Ryder, Dr. Lawrence Potter, and Dr. Lois Wims remain in the pool of potential candidates.
According to the WSU Provost Search Webpage, “The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs provides leadership and oversight for all academic programs, coordinates strategic planning and initiatives, promotes faculty excellence in teaching, research and service, and expands opportunities for engagement and outreach in the local, state, and national spheres.” This means that when named, the new provost will have immense influence over the academic direction taken by Worcester State University.
Barry Maloney, WSU president, acknowledged how serious the search for a new provost is when he said, “We are looking for someone who has the right attitude and can put some roots down and help shape the school for success.”
He also said that student feedback is the most important part of the process, because they’re the ones that will benefit most from a person who does the job well.
The three candidates were selected from a group of 10 finalists culled from an initial pool of 39 applicants. Both John Ryder and Lawrence Potter have visited the campus for on-campus interviews but Lois Wims has been rescheduled due to the weather. The candidates are vibrant in their own style and each one comes from a different educational department and focus.
Dr. John Ryder received his Bachelor’s in Philosophy from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland (class of ‘73), after which he went on to earn his Master’s at Stony Brook University in 1977. He rounded out his education with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the same university. He served as a full Professor of Philosophy, then Dean of Arts and Sciences, at the State University of New York Cortland until 2002, after which he filled the position of Director of the Office of International Programs, for the same institution, until 2010. He served as a president of Khazar University for a couple of years until coming into his current position as provost of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Lawrence Potter graduated magna cum laude with a triple major in English, Religion and Philosophy from Stillman College in 1995. He then received his Master’s from the University of Missouri-Columbia in English with a concentration in Literature and Criticism in 1996. He received his Ph.D from the same university in 1999. His dissertation was titled “Harlem’s Forgotten Genius: The Life and Works of Wallace Henry Thurman”. Potter continued his education post-doctorate at Purdue University until 2002. He served as English Professor, Associate Dean, and Chief Diversity Officer of the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access at Allegheny College from 2010 to 2012. He then began working at Jackson State University, first as Dean to the College of Liberal Arts, and now as a Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies.
Last but not least, Dr. Lois Wims graduated summa cum laude from Bryant College in 1977 in Law Enforcement. She received her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Salve Regina College in 1981, and then her Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 1989. She worked as a professor of Criminal Justice and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Alabama until 2002, after which she served as a Professor of Criminal Justice and Dean of Social and Behavioral Science at Mercy College in New York. Wims now holds the position of Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), New England’s largest and Rhode Island’s only community college.
More information on each candidate is available in their resumes, which can be found at Worcester State University – Provost Search. The page also holds the WSU “Feedback on Finalists” form which can be filled out by students that attend the final on-campus interview. The University’s final decision will be made on Tuesday, March 24th of this year.