College of DuPage Considers Mark Curtis-Chavez for Provost Position.


Alison Pfaff

Open Forum for Mark Curtis-Chavez

Tessa Morton

The search for someone to fill the new provost position at College of DuPage (COD) has led to the first open interviews with a candidate.

On July 25th and 26th, Mark Curtis-Chavez visited our campus to speak with administrators, faculty and students in an open interview setting. Three separate opportunities to speak with Curtis-Chavez took place over the two days and a live stream allowed those off campus to participate. The timing of the open forums came during the summer break when the majority of students and faculty were not present on campus.

Curtis-Chavez has 20 years of experience working in higher education, in both academic and administrative roles. As the first member of his family to receive a  college education, he began his interview by emphasizing his commitment to “opening doors” for those in the community who may not have previously considered COD as an option. Throughout his career, Curtis-Chavez has helped to increase enrollment numbers. At one school he oversaw more than 50 percent growth in enrollment during his tenure.

This fall, the number of students registering for new student orientation at COD is lower than previous terms and early numbers indicate student enrolment may be down this semester. The Courier sought comments from both the administration as well as members of the provost search committee. No one from either group responded to interview requests or questions about why Curtis-Chavez was selected for on-campus forums.

Another strength Curtis-Chavez discussed was the Hispanic faculty recruitment plan he implemented at Lone Star College, where he is currently the interim special assistant to the president. When the makeup of the faculty did not reflect the diversity of the student body, he began a long term project, visiting top graduating institutions for Hispanic educators, to start recruiting potential future faculty members.

In an interview, David Swope, manager of student diversity and inclusion at COD, said there has been some increased diversity amongst the faculty and staff at COD, but there has been a higher rate of increased diversity amongst the student population as a result of programming implemented by the diversity and inclusion department. COD has seen increases in both African American and Latin American student enrolment since 2014.

The new position of provost, which had previously not existed within COD administration, was opened in February this year, and efforts to find a suitable candidate have been ongoing. Linda Sands-Vankerk, vice president of Project Hire-Ed at COD, led a search committee team comprised of faculty, staff and former COD Student Trustee Anthony Walker. Walker also did not respond to interview requests. Curtis-Chavez was selected to advance to the open forum stage of the process after the committee carefully reviewed applications from all over the country.

In a statement to the Courier, Sands-Vankerk said, “The College community will receive official notification with respect to the final decision soon.”

The exact mandate for the provost, once hired, is not entirely clear. The COD Human Resources initial provost search prospectus states, the administration is looking for someone who can work with Dr. Ann Rondeau, the school’s president, on issues related to planning, policy and budgetary concerns. The new provost position merges the positions of vice president of  student affairs and vice president of academic affairs. The job description suggests an ideal candidate would bring another experienced and highly qualified individual to the administrative wing of the school, with a significant background in higher education both as an educator and in student outreach and affairs.