Provost search narrows to three finalists

The provost’s job can be one of the most difficult administrative jobs at a college: responsibilities include overseeing the academic program, the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, the Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) and interdisciplinary programs. After Barbara Feldman’s sudden departure at the beginning of September, O’Shea announced an internal search process to select a new candidate. Of the seven publicized applicants, O’Shea has narrowed the field down to three after an initial round of interviews: Professor Alberto Portugal, Humanities Division Chair Miriam Wallace and current Acting Provost Suzanne Sherman. 

All three candidates have served on myriad committees and in major leadership positions. O’Shea expects to announce the finalist by the end of the week.  

Suzanne Sherman

Dr. Suzanne Sherman has been serving as Acting Provost since Barbara Feldman’s sudden departure at the beginning of September. She has been working as the Associate Provost since 2018 but got her start in academia in 1989, as a chemistry professor. has been teaching chemistry since 1989. 

At the meeting with students on Wednesday, September 23, Sherman highlighted how her work as associate provost has enriched her understanding of the student experience. 

“My work as associate provost has helped prepare me for the position as provost because I have learned a whole lot about some of the problems that students face at New College, some of the issues that I might not have been as well aware of before I took on the position of associate provost,” Sherman said. 

José Alberto Portugal 

Dr. José Alberto Portugal has been teaching courses in Latin American literature in English and Spanish since arriving at New College in 1997. He also served as the chair of the Division of Humanities from 2013-16. 

In his cover letter, Portugal emphasized how, as division chair, he advocated for the well-being of faculty and staff in that office and facilitated increased communication within the division of humanities. 

At the Zoom meeting with students, Portugal said that he wants to regularly hear from students, and not just when things explode.

“I think that there has to be a more intentional way of being able to hear what the concerns of the students are,” Portugal explained. 

Miriam Wallace 

Dr. Miriam Wallace came to New College in 1995 and received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Wallace has served as the Chair of the Division of Humanities since 2016. 

“I see our current need as first and foremost someone who is trusted as caretaker for academics and committed to New College as an institution,” Wallace wrote in her cover letter. “I also see that, while across the college we have a great deal of shared vision, we are also at a point where we need to strike the right balance between sustaining the college’s founding vision and adapting to a changing and challenging world for higher education.”

Wallace’s meeting with students will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at 12 p.m. and this article will be updated with quotes directly following the meeting.from that then. 

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