Students and members of the Elon University community had their second opportunity to meet one of three candidates for the next provost and vice president for academic affairs

Elizabeth Sayrs, executive vice president and provost at Ohio University, spoke in a presentation to students and faculty Oct. 5. During her presentation, she highlighted values and experiences she’s had at Ohio University and connected them to the four themes in the Boldy Elon plan: learn, thrive, connect and rise.

Elizabeth Sayrs, executive vice president and provost at Ohio University, spoke in a presentation to faculty and students on Oct. 5.

At Ohio University last year, Sayrs launched a DEIAB — diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging — Faculty Affairs Council that used evidence to recruit and retain diverse faculty.

“I think the other flipside of expanding mentoring to underrepresented groups is recognizing the disproportionate impact that mentoring has on faculty from underrepresented or minoritized populations, which often take on the burden of that student mentoring without recognition and promotion tenure or merit processes or help — however that works here,” Sayrs said.

Sayrs said she was not actively looking to change jobs, but the open position at Elon intrigued her. 

“People are committed to the mission and you’re planners and you are always innovative and you have this really distinctive model of student education,” Sayrs said. “Part of me was like, does everyone believe that? Is that really a thing? Or is that just really excellent communication and marketing? And what I found from talking to people is everyone really is committed to that mission.”

Sayrs said she thinks there will be an adjustment from going from a larger university to a smaller one. Ohio University enrolled 18,031 undergraduate students as of fall 2021, according to U.S. News and World Report, while Elon has 6,302, according to its website

During her time at Ohio, Sayrs served as dean of the university's college for undecided and undeclared students, a role she said allowed her to interact with students and faculty.

“One of the things I loved about that job is, in addition to being able to do strategic things, … I got to work with people, interact with people, work with staff, and I like that a lot,” Sayrs said. “I like the strategy stuff, but I also really liked collaborating with people and finding that fun space to create ideas.”

Robert Aguirre, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at James Madison University, will speak 4 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at McCoy Commons, Oaks 212.