April 18, 2011

Cheng announces names of four provost finalists

by Tom Woolf

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Chancellor Rita Cheng today (April 18) announced the names of four internal finalists for provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Finalists are: Laurie A. Achenbach, professor of microbiology and associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Science; Joseph A. Brown, professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts; Jay C. Means, dean of the College of Science, professor of toxicology and chemistry, and professor of toxicology in the SIU School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology; and John Nicklow, interim assistant provost for Enrollment Management.

A 12-member screening committee, composed of faculty, students and representatives of campus constituency groups, reviewed the applications and recommended the finalists to Cheng. Each candidate will meet with Cheng, other administrators, deans and constituency heads this week and next. Each finalist also will discuss “SIUC: Our Future, Our Possibilities” during forums that are open to members of the campus community.

“I appreciate the efficient and thorough work of the screening committee,” Cheng said. “While many members of the campus community may be familiar with the candidates, I encourage everyone to attend the open forums to learn more about how each candidate envisions contributing to the goals of our University.”

Here’s a look at the four finalists:

Laurie A. Achenbach

Open forum: 1-2 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium

Achenbach is a professor of microbiology and associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Science. She joined the faculty as a visiting assistant instructor in the Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition in 1990. She served as an assistant professor of microbiology from 1991 to 1997, earning promotion to associate professor in 1997 and then to professor in 2002. She became associate dean for research and graduate programs in 2007.

Achenbach has been a member of the College of Science Budget Committee since 2001, and is an ad hoc member and the dean’s representative on the college’s promotion and tenure committee. She was a member of the Board Negotiation Team for 2010-2011 in collective bargaining of the Faculty Association contract, and is leading the focus visit report due to the Higher Learning Commission prior to its site visit in 2013. Achenbach is co-chair of the “Teaching and Student Success Lens Group” that is part of the Strategic Planning Core Committee for the University.

Other administrative experience includes serving as chair of the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Search Committee in 2010; Graduate Council, 2004-2007; International Advisory Board, 2007-present; Graduate Enrollment Working Group, 2007-present; College of Science Life Science Task Force, 2008-present; University Ombudsman Advisory Panel, 2003-present; and University Biosafety Committee, 1991-present.

In her application letter, Achenbach writes, “I am a strong proponent of SIUC’s dedication to quality teaching and research, to student learning and success, to community outreach and engagement, and to an inclusive student body supported by a diverse faculty, staff and administration.”

In addition to supporting the University College model at SIUC, Achenbach writes “I am a strong advocate of shared governance and believe that informed decisions must be made with input from various constituency groups who bring different perspectives to the issues at hand in order to move the institution forward.” She also expresses her support of the goals of affirmative action and equal opportunity “in guiding our hiring decisions such that we empower the University culture with the highest standards of inclusiveness and reap the benefits of a community rich with racial and ethnic diversity.”

Achenbach earned her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Northern Michigan University in 1982 and her doctoral degree in biology from the University of Illinois in 1988.

Joseph A. Brown

Open forum: 1-2 p.m., Friday, April 22, Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium

Brown is professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. He joined the faculty in 1997 as associate professor and director of Black American Studies, which until 2010 was a minor, earning promotion to professor in 2000. An ordained Roman Catholic priest, Brown has served as assistant chaplain at the Catholic Newman Center since 1997.

He served on the Graduate Council from 1998 to 2004; the Faculty Senate, 2004-2010; Chancellor’s Budget and Planning Task Force, 2002-2003; and has been a member of the GLBT Office Advisory Committee since 2007. Brown also served on the First-Year Experience Task Force’s Committee on Diversity, 2008-2009; President’s Committee on Undergraduate Student Diversity Issues, 2007; and as faculty representative on the advisory committee for the athletics department, 1998-2000. He is the faculty adviser for the Black Affairs Council, Underground Arts and the African Student Council.

Previous experience includes serving as an instructor from 1973 to 1978 in Creighton University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts; assistant professor of English and religious studies, 1984-1991, University of Virginia; interim dean, Office of African American Affairs, 1986-1988, University of Virginia; and associate professor and director, 1991-1994, Institute for Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University of Louisiana.

In his letter of application, Brown writes, “My reputation as the ‘one who works magic’ is well and deeply rooted among the various groups that intersect to make up this larger community. The major in Africana Studies is paramount. Add to that the obligations within this program to do all we can to bolster retention rates for the students we serve. My six years, each, on the Graduate Council and on the Faculty Senate are also testaments to my loyalty to this University.”

Brown notes that throughout his tenure at SIUC, he has argued that student retention “has been often neglected or haphazardly addressed. In the last two years, I have heard the winds blow from a different direction. Looking at the changes taking place now – from the University College conversation to the Saluki First Year experience, to the shifting of our tutoring and supplemental programs more directly under the provost’s office – I am quite content with these directions.”

Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and letters in 1968 from Saint Louis University. He hold a master’s degree in writing seminars from Johns Hopkins University, awarded in 1969; a master’s in Afro-American Studies from Yale University, awarded in 1983; Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees from Yale, awarded in 1983; and a doctoral degree in American Studies from Yale, awarded in 1984.

Jay C. Means

Open forum: 10-11 a.m., Friday, April 22, Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium

Means joined SIUC in 2007 as dean of the College of Science, professor of toxicology and chemistry, and professor of toxicology in the SIU School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology.

Among major accomplishments during his tenure as dean, Means lists: organized the development of a new interdisciplinary doctoral program in geosciences; established and oversaw the operation of the Life Sciences Taskforce to review, revise, and update life sciences curricula in four departments at all degree levels; developed and proposed to higher administration the “MATHFORCE” concept, designed to solve the problem of high failure rates and repeat enrollments in several math courses; established the positions and hired two associate deans, one in research and graduate education, the other in undergraduate research and academic affairs; increased enrollment in each successive academic year by greater than 5 percent; established two new Living Learning Communities that now include more than 170 students; increased new research funding from $6 million in fiscal 2007 to more than $12 million last fiscal year.

Prior to coming to SIUC, Means spent 10 years at Western Michigan University. Positions included: associate director, Environmental Research Center, 1999-2007; professor of biological sciences, 1997-2007; chair, Department of Chemistry, 1997-2002; professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology, 1997-2007; and Gwen Frostic Endowed Professor of Environmental Chemistry, 2002-2007.

He spent 15 years on the faculty at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. Among his positions there, Means served as professor of chemistry and of toxicology and environmental chemistry from 1987 to 2002 and as coordinator (chair) of the interdepartmental program in toxicology in the School of Veterinary Medicine from 1995 to 1997.

Means served in several positions at the University of Maryland as well.
From 1979 to 1983, he was an assistant professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology in the Department of Chemistry and in the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies. He served as an associate professor there from 1983 to 1987.

In his letter of application, Means notes that he earned a bachelor’s degree in education, with equivalent credit hours earned of majors in chemistry, biology and choral music. He earned a Master of Arts degree in curriculum development.

“As a result of these disciplinary choices, from the inception of my academic career, I have been involved in the creation, organization and administration of interdisciplinary teams of academic scholars to achieve specific sets of educational and research objectives and in the assessment of the educational outcomes of those efforts,” he writes. “These are the fundamental skills that I bring to this position – commitments to excellence, vision, organization, innovation, honest assessment and diversity.”

Means earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Illinois in 1969; a master’s in curriculum development from Concordia Teacher’s College in 1971; and a master’s and doctorate, both in food chemistry, from the University of Illinois in 1975 and 1976, respectively.

John Nicklow

Open forum: 10-11 a.m., Tuesday, April 26, Student Center Auditorium

Nicklow has served as interim assistant provost for Enrollment Management since June 2010. In that position, he is responsible for the offices of undergraduate admissions, financial aid, transfer student services, records and registration, bursar, and international programs and services.

Accomplishments include a major restructuring of undergraduate admissions and financial aid; initiating a high school junior and senior search and fulfillment campaign that more than tripled the number of prospective students in the enrollment funnel; and playing a key role in the coordination of several major campus initiatives, including the University College, new branding and marketing effort, expanding online and off-campus programs, strengthening partnerships with community colleges; and growing the University Honors Program.

Nicklow joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1998. He became an associate professor in 2003 and was promoted to professor in 2007. He served as acting chair of the department from July through December 2005, and was interim associate dean of the College of Engineering from 2006 to 2007. He became permanent associate dean in 2007.

As associate dean, he was responsible for the academic affairs of more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students, including recruitment and retention efforts, student support services, minority engineering, and academic advisement.

He served as an environmental engineering officer with the rank of Lieutenant J.G. with the U.S. Public Health Service from 1993 to 1997. Nicklow was responsible for the planning, design and construction management of water supply and waste disposal facilities for American Indian communities on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in Arizona.

In his letter of application, Nicklow writes, “Student enrollment and success are the lifeblood of the University and are the foundation upon which I will work to advance the institutional mission. I believe that the student body, both in its number and quality, must be a focal point around which all other activities at the University revolve. Doing so strengthens our reputation in the eyes of the public, industrial partners, alumni, and the state, justifies acquisition of personnel and additional resources, and provides a mechanism for increasing scholarly activity and research productivity.”

Nicklow earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in civil engineering, from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., in 1993. He earned his doctorate in civil engineering from Arizona State University in 1998.