On July 1, Lesia L. Crumpton-Young, the previous provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Morgan State University, assumed her role as the 13th president of Texas Southern University. She held the position for just over two years before her appointment.
Before Crumpton-Young’s appointment, Anna McPhatter, dean of the School of Social Work, served as the interim provost for 19 months as a search took place.
McPhatter has profound knowledge of the role and its requirements. It is an affair she is unlikely to forget.
“I had to learn intimate details about programs. I had to become immersed in the 10 programs. It was a very daunting experience,” said McPhatter.
She explained that her experience as interim provost was challenging in many ways but enjoyable overall. It strengthened her understanding of the university and the needs of students.
McPhatter said the role of the provost is not simple. While the job does require communication with the deans and chairs of each school within the university, it is deeper than just calling a meeting.
“The academic side, the student affairs side, the finance side… all of these pieces fit in together. One is not suspended or independent from the other,” said McPhatter.
Anything concerning a connection to the needs of the students went through the provost. While there are departments that oversee specific divisions of the university operations, the provost is the glue that holds the core parts together.
McPhatter recalled how she was often caught off guard when she was needed for a 4 a.m. meeting about the inclement weather. But then would be reminded that she was the chief academic officer and had to know if classes should be rescheduled or canceled.
Despite this, she embraced the role wholeheartedly and was even encouraged by David Wilson, president of Morgan State University, to consider the full position before Crumpton-Young was appointed.
Now, as another search commences, McPhatter was once again inquired of her interest in the vacancy. However, just as she responded years ago, her heart lies in her duty as the School of Social Work dean.
“While it was a magnificent experience… I’d like to remain committed to my role,” said McPhatter. “My passion is making sure that Morgan is showing up for this community [Baltimore] and giving young people a new picture to look at. That’s what I like to spend my time doing.”
She believes the primary reason for the search being internal is so that Morgan does not miss a beat regarding university operations. By May 2021, over 1,600 new students already committed to attend in the fall.
The position needs to be filled quickly to discuss the teaching and structural modalities for the upcoming year and other concerns involving students’ needs.
Wilson formed a search committee to screen applicants and present the top four candidates to him. It is hoped that the president will make his decision based on the final recommendation given by July 28.
Farin Kamangar, University Distinguished Professor and the associate dean at the School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, is heading the search committee, stated that though the search committee is overseeing the initial candidacy, Wilson will decide who will fill the role.
Wilson listed higher education and communication skills, highly regarded by the university, and the ability to have difficult conversations as ideal qualities of the incoming Provost. He also stressed that the provost is expected to help Morgan move towards its goals.
On July 15, four candidates were selected by the search committee that they believe embodies the qualities listed above. Oscar Barton, Glenda Prime, Hongtao Yu and Maryanne Akers, were the top finalists after searching for over a month within the Morgan community.
Each candidate will participate in a presentation to the community explaining why they are best fit for the rolee. The presentations will take place over the course of two days (July 20 and 21) with two finalists speaking on each day.
To watch each presentation, tune in at 2 p.m. EST using this link: https://morganstate.zoom.us/j/81997286094
McPhatter also added the importance of how anyone enters the position. As a member of the Morgan faculty over the past 26 years, McPhatter has connected with the university’s students and faculty. She said the candidate should know the university culturally and understand the operations of each school.
She said, “Maintaining the stability and forward movement of the university is what is most important for whoever fills the role of provost.”