Lang Sets Top Priorities as Provost
Now that “interim” has been removed from his title and he has been asked to remain as NMU’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Paul Lang is moving forward with a heightened resolve on four top priorities. He wants to take a fresh look at the liberal studies program, continue with efforts designed to increase retention, work with International Programs to recruit more foreign students and develop a collaborative relationship with Duke LifePoint during its pending acquisition of Marquette General Hospital.
Lang said he has charged a committee of administrators and AAUP leadership to issue a report by December on the liberal studies program. “This has been hanging out there for years and it is time to make some decisions related to liberal studies accountability and responsibility,” he said.
NMU is in the midst of several retention initiatives: COMPASS testing for restricted admitted students and freshmen entering on probationary status to ensure proper course placement; extending the First Year Experience program to a second semester; enlisting a cadre of student mentors/tutors to help peers struggling academically, particularly with math and English; reducing class sizes in some disciplines; and assigning student assistants to faculty who teach large lecture classes. The latter is being done on a limited basis as a pilot program. “The goal with all of these measures is to retain an additional 80-100 students over the next year and a half.”
NMU has enjoyed a collaborative relationship with MGH and Lang sees enhanced opportunity with the hospital’s pending acquisition by Duke LifePoint: “That will be a top priority over the next one to three years. We want to be in a position to develop programs that meet their needs and also remain consistent with the university’s mission. There’s also a possibility of taking advantage of the University Center’s location right next to the hospital and utilizing that space in a way that offers more integrated health care programming, as we’ve been discussing recently on campus.”
Reviewing his first year in Academic Affairs, Lang said the main challenge of the provost and vice president position is its scope. He previously served as dean of the College of Professional Studies.
“As dean, you’re dealing with a subset of issues that doesn’t fully prepare you for the broadness of what you’ll encounter as provost,” he added. “I wasn’t surprised by that, but it’s the biggest challenge. I think it will be easier to do the job and garner support, especially for future goals and activities, if the campus community knows I’ll be around for a while. I’m grateful to President Haynes for appointing me. Our overarching goal is to give every student who attends Northern the opportunity to be successful. Everything else we do is, in one way or another, in support of that objective.”