After moving in the midst of a pandemic, Provost & Professor of Psychology Beth M. Schwartz, Ph.D., began her tenure on June 15 as Endicott College’s chief academic officer—a vital leadership position in shaping a progressive future for education at the College.
Even though she is immersed in preparing for students to return in the fall, Dr. Schwartz took time to answer our questions about her vision and values.
The role of provost is relatively new at Endicott. How is this a gamechanger?
With the decision to merge graduate programs with respective undergraduate schools, it makes sense that previously divided responsibilities now fall under one chief academic officer, the provost. This comprehensive role can provide leadership for a successful integration and work with the faculty to maintain the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of this wonderful College. We can now work as one institution, with a clear goal in mind: developing undergraduate and graduate education that best defines and distinguishes the Endicott learning experience, focused on the liberal arts and experiential opportunities. A seamless transition into quality graduate programs is now possible, helping students continue their education and excel in their fields of interest.
How do you personally approach the role of Provost?
I approach my role with a focus on student success, how all parts of the academic program shape the transformative education that our students experience. Keeping the student in mind when reviewing the structure of academic affairs; hiring and supporting the faculty; examining academic opportunities; and determining resources needed for all individuals in academic affairs—both in and out of the classroom—that will allow us to achieve desired learning outcomes. I know there will be challenges and difficult decisions to make, but I also know that the results will be incredibly rewarding. A good sense of humor has always served me well. Though I take this role seriously, I never take myself too seriously; I never take differences in opinions personally; and I always try to stay focused on the central educational mission of the College.
What is your academic vision for the College?
To be a global leader of transformative education that integrates theory and practice.
How does your background as a long-standing faculty member inform your academic leadership decisions as Provost?
Really understanding the many responsibilities of faculty members is essential as a provost. Through my many years as a faculty member, I am able to appreciate the faculty voice, respect the role and importance of shared governance, and understand the challenges that faculty face when balancing the roles of teacher and scholar, and when serving the College. That experience allows me to maintain the critical balance of advocating for the needs of both the faculty and the College, which are essential in informing my leadership decisions as provost.
What are your core teaching values as a professor of psychology?
When teaching, I focus on continuous improvement—staying connected to the scholarship not only in my discipline, but also in teaching and learning. That focus allows me to maintain my enthusiasm and provides confidence that my students look forward to stepping into my classroom. I know they are experiencing the most current content of the discipline, sensing my unwavering passion, and becoming engaged partners in the learning process.
How are Endicott classrooms being reimagined for fall? What contingency plans are in place?
Given the importance of the residential learning experience, COVID-19 required academic leadership to determine how to best provide a learning environment that defines an Endicott education, creating the important connections among members of the community, being accessible to our students in and out of the classroom, and setting clear learning goals and expectations.
Over the summer, academic leadership and faculty members engaged in two teaching institutes. We examined each type of teaching modality, from seated classrooms to online courses, defining each environment and connecting them to the key elements of an Endicott classroom.
This is a very teachable moment and one where can learn to not live in fear of the unknown, but instead work together to move forward in the new normal. We recognize the need to be more proactive and prepared for all possibilities in order to best serve our students; we have an obligation to prepare for the upcoming academic year, putting in place precautions that provide a healthy and effective learning environment and provide the incredible Endicott education that we all value.
Visit endicott.edu/provost to learn more.
New Provost Shares Academic Vision, Core Leadership & Teaching Values
Beth M. Schwartz, Ph.D., approaches her role at Endicott College with a focus on student success.
Photo by Terry Slater
Published on: July 31, 2020
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