The Search for a Provost

Nebraska Wesleyan University invites applications and nominations for its next Provost. The Provost is the chief academic officer and ranks after the President in the administration.

To receive full consideration, materials should be received on or before February 28, 2017.

About Nebraska Wesleyan University

Nebraska Wesleyan University is a thriving comprehensive, liberal arts-based institution with 2,000 students. It achieves remarkable results with modest resources. Its academic programs are rooted in an enduring commitment to excellence, a belief in the power of personal attention, teaching and learning, and a strong tradition of shared governance.

Chartered by Methodists in 1887, Nebraska Wesleyan has an ongoing, beneficial relationship today with the United Methodist Church. The University welcomed its first class of 96 male and female students in 1888, taught by a faculty of eight in a single building. In its early years the University grew to include a college of liberal arts, a music conservatory, schools of art, business, and education, and an elementary and secondary school. During the 1930s and 1940s, NWU eliminated the various schools, closed its pre-collegiate programs, and reorganized as an undergraduate liberal arts college. It built its first residence hall in 1948; until then students had boarded in homes in the surrounding University Place neighborhood. Today there are a dozen modern residence halls and all traditional undergraduates whose homes are not in Lincoln and vicinity are expected to live on campus through the junior year.

Adult and graduate education reentered the picture at NWU gradually over the past 40 years. In the late 1970s a small beginning was made with courses offered to adults through the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning. In 2000, Nebraska Wesleyan began expanding its academic offerings to include a limited number of graduate degrees. In 2003, the University established a two-college structure, with traditional undergraduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and adult and graduate programs in University College. In 2004, Nebraska Wesleyan opened an instructional site in Omaha, Neb. where it offers adult and graduate programs. In 2014, the University relocated its Omaha site to a spacious 12,000 square foot location. 

NWU also conducts the Wesleyan Honors Academy. It gives high school juniors and seniors opportunities to earn college credits by enrolling in courses taught by masters-degree holding high school teachers who are adjunct members of the Nebraska Wesleyan faculty. NWU is Nebraska’s only NACEP accredited institution. Honors Academy courses transfer to all two- and four-year colleges in Nebraska and 95 percent of post-secondary institutions across the country. Today the Wesleyan Honors Academy serves 1,500 students in 70 public and parochial schools around the state. 

Nebraska Wesleyan offers five baccalaureate degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and four master’s degrees—Master of Business Administration (since 2014), Master of Education (since 2016), Master of Science in Nursing (since 2000), and a combined MSN/MBA (since 2014).

Nebraska Wesleyan has been continuously accredited since 1914 by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic programs are accredited or approved by the following professional bodies: 

• Athletic Training: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) 

• Chemistry: American Chemical Society (ACS) 

• Education: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the Nebraska Department of Education 

• Music: National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) 

• Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

• Social Work: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

For many years U.S. News & World Report recognized Nebraska Wesleyan as the state’s top liberal arts institution. In 2016 Nebraska Wesleyan moved to the Regional Universities-Midwest category in light of its recent growth as a comprehensive university. In that U.S. News category, NWU ranks 15th among 156 institutions. Nebraska Wesleyan has also been recognized favorably by The Princeton Review, Forbes, Colleges of Distinction, and Washington Monthly, as well as being named a military-friendly school.

NWU’s commitment to academic excellence and personal attention to students is consistently reflected in the strength and accomplishments of its gifted faculty, including three who have been named the Carnegie Foundation “Teacher of the Year” in Nebraska. The full-time faculty numbers approximately 110. Ninety-two percent of them hold the terminal degree appropriate to their field. With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1 and an average class size of 19, the University is known for a rigorous and nurturing learning environment, enhanced by the faculty’s deserved reputation for unusually effective teaching and mentoring. 

NWU’s emphasis on experience yields extraordinary student outcomes: two Rhodes scholars (most recently in 2006), 54 Fulbright awards (Nebraska’s top producer of them), six Truman scholars, and seven Goldwater scholars. Two-thirds of all NWU graduates go on to graduate or professional school within five years of graduation. NWU celebrates an 85 percent medical school placement rate, a 90 percent dental school placement rate, and an even higher teacher placement rate.  

Overall Nebraska Wesleyan University enrolls 2,000 students, with about two-third of them being traditionally aged full-time undergraduates. Students choose from 47 majors, 39 minors and 17 pre-professional programs. The general education Archway Curriculum ensures that every student has an experience-rich education through internships, research projects, service learning, or study abroad. More than one-third of NWU students double major or triple minor and still graduate in four years or less.

Among more than 90 student-run organizations are six fraternities and sororities. Global Service Learning is the nation’s only entirely student-led global service learning group.

Nebraska Wesleyan’s athletic program has a rich tradition of excellence. Twenty-one varsity sports are offered (11 for men, 10 for women). About 30 percent of traditional students compete in intercollegiate athletics. NWU student-athletes compete in NCAA Division III. In 2016, NWU joined the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Prairie Wolves have celebrated many conference wins and a national championship in 2006 in men’s golf. The University is a nationally-recognized leader in academics and athletics, ranking eighth in the nation (among all divisions) for Academic All-Americans and fifth in the nation for NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Many students participate in an intramural program with 22 individual and team options. 

Nebraska Wesleyan’s Lincoln location brings with it an inviting combination of opportunity and energy. With a population of 265,000, Nebraska’s capital city has been dubbed “Silicon Prairie” for its many high-tech startup firms. The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has named Lincoln a top college city in the U.S. and a top place for college graduates to work. The city has a rich cultural life with theaters, museums, and art galleries, 6,000 acres of public parks, and extensive outdoor opportunities. 

Located in the University Place neighborhood with its own community feel, NWU’s campus features the striking Richardsonian architecture of the University’s original building, Old Main (1887). An architecturally eclectic group of academic and performance halls, modern student residences, and well-equipped athletic facilities are situated on the 50-acre urban campus amid spacious lawns. In 2017, NWU will break ground on an 84,000 square foot science center to house the programs in biology, chemistry and psychology. The new science center will embrace NWU’s emphasis on experience, providing greater opportunity for dynamic, hands-on learning environments, collaboration between academic departments, and open and visible laboratory spaces. 

Nebraska Wesleyan regularly balances its operating budget, typically with a small margin. The University operates with approximately $40 million of revenues net of financial aid. The endowment is $55 million. Long-term bonded debt is $17 million. Standard and Poor’s has awarded Nebraska Wesleyan an A- Stable credit rating. The Board of Governors and administration have long taken a conservative approach to institutional finances.

Archway Curriculum

In the fall of 2014 Nebraska Wesleyan launched a new program of general education for all undergraduate students (traditional and adult) called the Archway Curriculum. It integrates learning across disciplinary boundaries, enhances learning through non-classroom experiences, and weaves skill development throughout the academic program. Students have frequent opportunities to develop fundamental skills in communicating effectively and thinking critically. Throughout the Archway Curriculum, students are exposed to a broad range of topics and perspectives, enhancing their understanding of the world. 

The Archway Curriculum has five components: 

  1. The First-Year Curriculum includes the Archway Seminar and First-Year Writing. In their Archway Seminar, first-year students are introduced to the intellectual practices that must be cultivated and routinely exercised to make the most of a liberal education. By exploring an interdisciplinary topic, students develop their capacity to think analytically, conduct research, communicate orally and in writing, and collaborate in solving problems. First-year students also take two First-Year Writing courses (writing across the curriculum), which focus on all stages of the writing process and give students the opportunity to compose in different styles and formats for different purposes. 
  2. The Foundational Literacies include Modern Language Literacy (two semesters), Mathematical Problem Solving (one course), Science Investigations (one natural science laboratory course and one social science course) and Creative and Performing Arts (3 credits). 
  3. The centerpiece of the Archway Curriculum is the Integrative Core, which prepares students to confront the multifaceted challenges that face them as members of a diverse and global society. The Integrative Core comprises several groups of courses, or “threads,” centered around a theme or “big question.” Students choose from among nine available threads to complete one 18-credit thread or two 9-credit threads. In the threads students examine a core issue from different disciplinary, cultural, historical, social, scientific, artistic, or ethical perspectives. As a result of this integrative study, students develop the intercultural, interpersonal, and interdisciplinary skills they will need as the next generation of civic and professional leaders. 
  4. The Essential Connections include courses that are Writing-Instructive (3 courses, one at the upper level), Discourse- and Speaking-Instructive (3 courses, one at the upper level), and Diversity-Instructive (2 courses, US and Global). Courses in the Essential Connections often overlap with other parts of the Archway Curriculum, (Foundational Literacies or Integrative Core), or with majors, so that it is common for one course to meet several requirements. 
  5. Experiential Learning may include independent research, internships, service learning, peer mentor or leadership roles, and study away. Students complete two experiential learning activities (one exploratory and one intensive) that integrate, apply, and expand their classroom learning.

The Archway Curriculum has been nationally heralded within higher education as a progressive model of liberal learning for the 21st century. By the fall of 2017, all undergraduate students will be studying under its requirements.

Areas of Excellence

There is unusual breadth to academic excellence at Nebraska Wesleyan. For example, pre-medical studies have been a hallmark of the institution for many decades; psychology is exceptionally vibrant; the theatre arts program has experienced remarkable growth over the last 10 years; music combines progression with strong tradition. Many other programs, though small, are valued among professors and students, and each celebrate remarkable outcomes. The Capitol Hill Internship Program successfully connects students to an array of Washington, D.C. experiences both in and out of government. There is a wide-ranging global studies emphasis, anchored by an exceptional sabbatical option of full salary for a full year to any professor who leaves the country for that period.

Graduate Studies

Graduate studies are a growing aspect of the institutional character. Nebraska Wesleyan seeks to provide master’s level education in subjects where there is a good opportunity for vertical integration with existing strengths in the undergraduate program.

Currently Nebraska Wesleyan offers four master’s degrees within the framework of University College. The Master of Science in Nursing has been offered since 2000. The Master of Business Administration was introduced in 2014, along with a joint Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in Nursing. The Master of Education came in 2016. All of these graduate programs are offered in both Lincoln and Omaha. It is anticipated that further master’s degrees will be added at a rate of one every two years. Current planning foresees a Master of Social Work starting in 2018 and a Master of Athletic Training in 2020.

The Leadership Opportunity

Nebraska Wesleyan University has maintained a very strong liberal arts tradition throughout its history, and has built a reputation as the number one liberal arts institution in Nebraska. Adding adult and graduate programs has now helped NWU transition to another level of educational recognition with its latest listing as a U.S. News & World Report Regional Comprehensive University. An enviable record of academic program expansion and integration has been established in the last decade, and the new Provost will have the opportunity to work with the Nebraska Wesleyan faculty to enhance the academic profile and identity of NWU in the future. 

The Provost reports to the President and is responsible as the chief academic officer of the University. The new Provost will join a vibrant academic community that focuses on student success, and will be expected to provide strong leadership in addressing the following opportunities and challenges: 

An Evolving Academic Identity

The transition of Nebraska Wesleyan from an undergraduate liberal arts college to a regional university built upon a strong liberal arts core represents both a change in academic program, and a shift in the University’s academic identity and standing. The new Provost will be looked to as the spokesperson for this evolution, and as the one best equipped to give voice and import to an even broader and stronger academic mission.

Related to this change in academic identity, the new Provost will be asked to work with the Nebraska Wesleyan community to develop an administrative structure and organization that effectively supports all of the University’s academic programs and offerings. A part of this effort will involve consideration of options for the current structure that includes the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the University College (UC). The goals of this effort will include strong program support, efficiency of operations, and the effective delivery of support services for all students and in every program.

The development of a new structure may also require commensurate restructuring of the Provost’s Office and other direct reports, and will include extensive budget analysis and possible budgetary reallocation of resources.

Refinement Of The Archway Curriculum 

The accomplishment of designing and implementing the Archway Curriculum represents a nationally recognized university-wide initiative. The integrated studies program includes “threads” of interconnected courses woven through different academic disciplines. Experiential learning, writing, speaking, and diversity are instructive focus areas and the core experience culminates in a senior capstone. 

Now in its third year of implementation, there is opportunity to fully integrate the Archway Curriculum throughout all disciplines in the University and have faculty and students embrace the importance of this core curriculum. Orientation for students and training for advisors will continue to be critical.

Communication of the impact of this curriculum can always be improved, and messaging to students, alumni, parents, employers and the Board of Governors will all help maximize its influence. Expansion of faculty training in the use of the e-portfolio will be another step in the completion of the process.

Development Of The New Graduate Programs 

Nebraska Wesleyan University currently offers four graduate programs (MBA, MSN/MBA, MSN, and the M.Ed.). The strategic plan has identified the need to develop additional graduate programs, including the MSW, within the next two years. 

The ability to gather and incorporate market data on new and emerging trends and graduate programs needs is a priority. In developing new graduate programs, the University is committed to maintaining program and reputational excellence, including effective support systems, properly credentialed faculty, and adequate resources.

Leadership Of Faculty

The Nebraska Wesleyan tradition of academic excellence and demonstrable student success is attributable to the strength of the faculty. The recruitment, retention and support of the faculty will depend upon the ability of the Provost to be the primary faculty advocate to all constituencies. 

Faculty development, competitive salaries, strong tenure, promotion and sabbatical policies, and support for conferences and research are all hallmarks of commitment to faculty. The analysis and distribution of resources to support instructional technology will be essential. 

The Provost is a spokesperson for shared governance and acts as the primary liaison to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Governors in interpreting the academic model of shared governance and participatory decision-making. The strongest candidates will have a record of support for academic innovation, integration and synergistic pedagogical and assessment approaches that facilitate high impact learning for all types of students.

Partnership With Campus Departments To Promote Student Success And Retention

The Provost and the Student Affairs sector of the University have been partners in the development of a comprehensive and affirming student success model. While the reporting structure for Student Affairs is in transition, the need for this integrated approach to student support will continue so that all students will experience increased engagement and success.

The continuing development of programs, networks, and support services that strengthen the total student experience at NWU will be a priority. The Provost and faculty will partner with all other sectors to impact and improve advising and mentoring in order to increase persistence and improve retention and graduation rates. 

Planning for the second phase of the Library Learning Commons Project presents another opportunity to create a campus-wide vision of a learning community.

Advocacy For Diversity And Inclusivity 

NWU is an inclusive and welcoming community with many opportunities for continued growth and development of a diverse faculty and student population. Given the demographic changes in Nebraska, the Midwest, and the nation, there are multiple areas where Federal grants (LSAMP and S-STEM) have been obtained to enhance diversity activities. 

The NWU Action Council on Diversity and Inclusion provides support and programming for university-wide activities. Support for faculty training in culturally-sensitive pedagogy in the classroom will also be emphasized. Study abroad experiences are currently rich and varied, and there is interest in developing a stronger international focus for student and faculty recruitment. The internationalization of the curriculum and the emphasis on global citizenship is an ongoing enterprise.

Senior Leadership Of The University And Community 

The Provost is a prominent member of the campus and the community, and helps ensure that the vision and mission of the institution are well articulated at the local, regional and national levels. As the University continues to grow in stature and reputation, the Provost is expected to “frame the message” about the importance of the academic program and curriculum to ever increasing constituencies. 

The importance of the Provost as the interpreter of the academic experience cannot be overstated. Effectively expressing the full and remarkable value of the small, liberal arts and faith-based comprehensive university is a major task for the Provost.

In addition, the Provost may serve as the facilitator for “conversations that matter” on campuses and in communities where there may be increasing diversity and complexity. Opportunity to lead discussions about future trends that will impact the academy and the society in a 21st century may also be part of the Provost’s role.

Desired Attributes for Leadership

Applicants for Provost will come from higher education with the requisite doctoral level preparation. The Provost must be an EXPERIENCED FACULTY MEMBER AND LEADER, who has demonstrated an understanding of excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, and who understands the evolving array of challenges and expectations that are now facing faculty in every discipline. He/she should have had academic administrative experience and will also demonstrate the following attributes:

Accomplished And Respected Academic Leader who strongly affirms the importance of NWU’s mission and vision and who “cultivates the desire for learning and nurtures the growth of the whole person” within the context of the liberal arts tradition. He/she is committed to the importance of academic excellence, and to lifelong learning. He/she embodies the values/ethos of service learning, collegiality, community and inclusivity.

Experienced Educator who has demonstrated experience and understanding of a comprehensive university that includes undergraduate programs, liberal arts core curriculum, experiential learning, graduate education, adult outreach, off-campus sites, and the development of online education or hybrid programs and professional programs. Has an understanding of the required data, resource, and support systems. 

Outstanding Communicator who has developed excellent listening skills, effective mediation techniques, collaborative approaches, facilitation experience with administration/faculty/staff/students who have divergent and differing perspectives. Has the ability to deliver the message of the importance and value of higher education at the campus/national level.

Effective Collaborator who can partner with the President, interact with the varied campus administrative units, engage with the students, interface with the staff, and have the respect of the Board. An advocate for faculty who can represent the faculty at all levels and can be transparent in communicating to and through different groups about the academic experience, the role of faculty and the importance of academic excellence, student success and student persistence to graduation.

An Informed Financial Manager who understands the implications and impact of data-based decision making, and financial models of academic planning will be essential. The ability to coordinate with the Vice President for Finance and Administration will be critical as the comprehensive integration of the entire academic program structure and delivery systems is undertaken. Understanding of broad based support systems, resource allocation, alignment, and forecasting potential new sources of revenue generation will be helpful as the Provost resides at the intersection of faculty and administrative strategic thinking and planning. 

Engaged and Enthusiastic Leader who has high visibility on campus and in the community and who enjoys daily interaction with students and faculty. He/she promotes NWU, the multi-varied academic opportunities, and supports the Lincoln and Nebraska regional, educational, health, corporate, and lifestyle advantages, and has interest in developing and maintaining community partnerships that enhance NWU.


Nebraska Wesleyan University provides equal educational opportunities to all qualified persons in all areas of university operation, including education and decisions regarding faculty appointment, promotion or tenure, without regard to race, religion, age, sex, creed, color, disability, marital status, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

The Process of Candidacy

Nominations and expressions of interest may be submitted electronically to:

Dr. Patty Hawk
Associate Professor 
Chair, Communication Studies Department
Chair, Provost Search Committee
Nebraska Wesleyan University
NWUProvost [at] (subject: NWU%20Provost%20Search)

Candidates are asked to submit electronically in MS Word or Adobe PDF: (1) a letter of interest that directly addresses the leadership opportunities outlined in the profile above, (2) a resume, and (3) the names, email addresses, and telephone numbers of five references. References will not be contacted without first securing the permission of the candidate. To receive full consideration, materials should be received on or before February 28, 2017.

This search is being assisted by:

Loren J. Anderson, Ph.D.
Senior Consultant
AGB Search
Cell: (253) 223-3566
lja [at] (subject: NWU%20Provost%20Search)

Jennifer Braaten, Ed.D.
AGB Search
Cell: (540) 420-5839
jennifer.braaten [at] (subject: NWU%20Provost%20Search)

Richard L. Torgerson, Ph.D.
Senior Consultant
AGB Search
Cell: (563) 380-4919
rlt [at] (subject: NWU%20Provost%20Search)

Provost Search Committee:

Patty Hawk, Associate Professor
Chair, Communication Studies Department
Chair, Provost Search Committee

Nathaniel Cunningham, Associate Professor of Physics

Patty Hall, Vice Provost for Academic Systems and University Registrar

T.J. McDowell, Associate Vice President

Hannah Rittscher, Student

Amy Spears, Assistant Professor of Music

Scott Stanfield, Professor of English

Tami Thompson, Assistant Professor of Business/Director of MBA

Cori Vokoun, Board of Governors