Hannah Collings – Staff Writer
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CLARION, Pa.- How does one move from a 1.75 GPA his first semester in college to a 16-year career at the University of Mary Washington and becoming a potential provost for Clarion University?
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This was the experience of provost candidate Dr. Timothy O’Donnell which he used to outline his vision for Clarion University in an open forum Tuesday.
College student success, O’Donnell said, is not limited to graduation rates, but to how well prepared one is to enter the workforce.
O’Donnell said that success depends upon professors who make students excited about learning, professors who care about the student as a person, someone who pushes students toward hopes and dreams. He pointed to projects that take one or more semesters to complete and an internship or job where the student can apply learning and involvement in extracurricular activities.
He has seen success because he had all of these things while in college. He hopes to nurture not only student retention, but also prepare the future alumni by encouraging these factors of student growth.
Quoting from Peter Capelli’s book, Will College Pay Off?, O’Donnell said colleges and universities should continually be looking to the workforce to determine how to best teach and equip their students.
The needs of the workforce are evolving, and O’Donnell said that as long as Clarion University continues to evolve and meet these needs, it cannot fail.
As provost, O’Donnell said he will put into practice the words of one of his coaches in college: “You have to work every day to make yourself obsolete.”
O’Donnell considers a good provost is one who works collaboratively with colleagues for the future success of students.
Taking research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers and Google, O’Donnell said that a college administration should work to help students tailor degrees to be marketable to current employers. He said these employers are looking for graduates who excel in areas like leadership, teamwork, problem solving and communication skills.
O’Donnell said it should be the responsibility of the provost and other student success workers to build relationships with employers in order to connect graduates with jobs.
A provost, O’Donnell said, needs to be in close collaboration with the vice president of student affairs.
When asked why he chose to apply for the provost position at Clarion, O’Donnell said that he is excited to see the possibilities Clarion University has. “Western Pennsylvania, mission, first generation students,” O’Donnell said. “I want to be part of that as we move forward.”
O’Donnell said little of policies he will advocate if employed at Clarion. As with previous provost candidate Brian DePoy, O’Donnell did cite a historical precedence of favoring differential tuition.
O’Donnell currently the associate provost for academic engagement student success at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.