Aswani Volety is the second provost candidate to speak at an open event at Elon University.
On Thursday afternoon, Volety — who is currently a marine biology professor and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington — addressed members of the community in upstairs Lakeside about his qualifications and experience in higher education. He answered how he will leverage opportunities here at Elon to approach challenges that higher education faces in the 21st century.
His presentation focused on Elon’s core values, and how Elon’s success is defined by its commitment to it. He mainly focused on Elon’s successes and how he plans to build them — specifically regarding teaching, application-based learning and experiential learning that is shifting towards the need to address social issues in society.
“Elon is a fantastic institution” Volety said. “Elon is what it is because it sticks to its core values.”
Volety also spoke on his experience at UNC Wilmington and how it allowed him to shape the way he directs higher education. He says that he was impressed with Elon faculty members commitment to education, and plans to embrace and build upon it.
“All of the faculty members care deeply about Elon,” Volety said. “You do these things very well.”
After the presentation, Volety was asked a variety of questions from faculty and staff members present at the event.
Full Professor of Communications Naeemah Clark asked ways newly hired faculty could be successful at Elon University, and if Volety's advice would be different for faculty of color.
Volety said that the diversity conversation in education is a very important one to have. He said that he will make sure new faculty members and prospective faculty feel included and accepted.
“Diversity is great,” Volety said. “But inclusion is far more important.”
Former student body president Kenneth Brown asked Volety what he will do to ensure students will focus on the long-term in higher education, rather than the short-term. Volety said that college is not just about a degree, but rather an experiential focused education that you keep in your back pocket for life.
“You are not coming just for an education,” Volety said. “It includes broad conversations to take with you in the long term.”
Volety also said he will not be an academic leader sitting in a high throne, but someone who is immersed in the community.
“Elon is already a very engaged community,” Volety said. “What I hope to do is not necessarily sit in the provost office and talk to the deans because that is not my style, although I will meet with them. My style is more decentralization.”
He says he makes an initiative to take staff out to lunch to listen to their concerns.
“If I am here,” Volety said, “you will see me a lot.”
The next candidate to come to campus is Debbie Ricker, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Hood College. She will come to campus next Monday and will speak at 4:15 in Lakeside 213.