GVSU announces new provost

GVL - Courtesy of GVSU Communications 
Maria Cimitile

GVL – Courtesy of GVSU Communications Maria Cimitile

Jenna Fracassi

After a lengthy selection process, Grand Valley State University President Thomas Haas announced his appointment of Maria Cimitile as provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs Wednesday, April 26.

The process for finding a new provost began last year when Haas put together a search-and-screen committee and appointed consultants. Teri Losey, executive associate to the president and secretary of the Board of Trustees, and John Jellema, associate vice president of academic affairs, were co-chairs on the committee.

Toward the end of the fall 2016 semester, GVSU identified a number of candidates to interview, and three were invited to participate in a campus-wide, open-interview process.

“We were able to bring in some folks that were qualified, but when they came for the interview on campus, I got feedback from many different people, and my own assessment was that we didn’t have the right person in that mix,” Haas said. “So, I asked the search committee and the consultants to go back and see if there was anyone else out there.”

From there, the committee brought three more candidates to campus in April for interviews. That search ultimately came up short again.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve the outcome that I wanted to have, (which was) a provost coming from that particular search,” Haas said. “I really wanted to make sure we had the right person with the right fit.”

Retiring Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Gayle Davis said in light of her departure in June, it was important to recruit a qualified successor as soon as possible from among the skilled people who were already part of the university.

“While the applicants who were interviewed were interesting people, Grand Valley is distinctive enough that none of the candidates were likely to fulfill all of our needs,” Davis said via email.

Haas said once he knew they hadn’t found the right person through the committee, he decided to look inside the campus and found that Cimitile would be the best person to carry forward the leadership needs in the academic and student affairs division.

With nearly 20 years of work experience at the university, Cimitile has held many different positions, including assoiate professor of philosophy and associate dean for students and curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is currently the associate vice president for academic affairs.

“I have had a number of administrative roles at Grand Valley that afforded me opportunities to engage in curriculum development, advising, resolving student issues, leading diversity initiatives, creating and implementing strategic planning and assessment, and budgeting,” Cimitile said in an email. “My philosophical training has benefited me in each of these areas because of its emphasis on critical and analytical thinking.”

Haas said after looking at Cimitile’s resume and the position requirements, he found that it was a great alignment.

“I think that she’s the best for what we need here at Grand Valley,” he said. “She has an outstanding background as a collaborative leader, she has great administrative breadth, I would call it, that’s very successful. (She) has a professional experience that shows me that she can be a very successful provost while here at the university.

She’s a consummate professor and a teacher, she’s well-respected by the faculty, she understands shared governance, and she’s very student-centered.”

Davis, who spent 15 years in the provost position, said she agreed with the decision for her replacement.

“(Cimitile) has the appropriate experience in many areas of this position already, having been working in the Office of the Provost for many years and in many roles,” Davis said. “She is intelligent, creative and dedicated.”

Cimitile said her seven years of experience in the provost’s office have provided her with the opportunity to gain knowledge and to contribute to GVSU in meaningful ways that are relevant to her new role. As for her plans as provost, she said she hopes to build on GVSU’s existing achievements and foster innovation among students, faculty and staff.

“We are privileged to be at a public institution that offers opportunities to students that are truly transformative for their lives and makes a significant difference in our communities,” she said. “I plan on working closely with faculty governance and our talented staff to develop more opportunities for intellectual inquiry that students will use to tackle the issues that our world faces now and in the future.

I want our students to be creative leaders that address innovations in technology, medical challenges, environmental and social economic issues.”

Cimitile’s three-year term of service in the position will begin Saturday, July 1, with the opportunity for an extension.