The third candidate for Kansas University’s provost position stressed academic quality, a diverse environment and collaboration as personal values.
Jeffrey S. Vitter is a former provost at Texas A&M University, where he is now working as a professor of computer science and engineering.
Vitter said he stepped aside as provost after the university’s president resigned to make way for a new leadership team. He has also served as the dean of the College of Science at Purdue University, and as a faculty member at Brown University and Duke University, where he was chairman of his department.
In his presentation and in responses to questions, he stressed the value of strategic planning, saying that working collaboratively to identify and achieve goals could help KU in a number of areas, including raising academic quality and resources.
“Nothing could be more important to a vibrant fundraising campaign than a strategic plan,” Vitter said.
At both Texas A&M and Purdue, he cited examples where he brought new approaches to old problems, including one at Purdue where he instituted a hiring process that resulted in a more diverse pool of finalists and eventual hires.
He drew on his computer science background, saying his research in algorithms — “a recipe for solving problems,” he called them — prepared him for issues he’d face in complex administrative roles in universities.
Vitter is the last of three candidates to be announced for the position. The other two are Philip McConnaughay, law dean at Pennsylvania State University, and Steve Warren, KU’s vice provost for research and graduate studies.