32 PHI KAPPA PHI FORUM
Silva agreed that higher education
needs serious evaluation. “We have
to think more carefully about what
it means to be a university,” he
said, comparing the missions of a
community college and research
universities. Salem State is a teaching
university, and that asks a lot of his
faculty and of his resources.
“I can imagine everyone out there
is at an institution that’s running pretty
lean right now,” he said. “Can I get
Varhus said she encourages
stewardship among Nazareth’s faculty
and staff by reminding them just what
it costs students to attend. “I like to say
when a department is begging for x, y,
z, to remember that 95 percent of what
we have, someone went into debt over,”
she said. “I don’t see a magic solution
The provosts also discussed
innovation in the classroom. Varhus
called interdisciplinarity “the cloud
you’ve seen on the horizon for
decades,” and that its application
to education was different at every
institution. It’s easier at the graduate
level, Bourgeois added, and pointed
to Texas State’s master’s degree in
aging and dementia studies, which
encompasses health care, sociology,
and psychology, as an example.
The panel also discussed honors
education, as all had at one point in
their careers directed honors programs.
“Honors programs can be many
different things,” Varhus said. “[They]
should distill and reflect the values of
For Silva, the challenge of the honors
college again came back to money.
The faculty “is difficult to afford at
this point in time,” he said. He added,
Salem State’s honors program looks like
the faculty, not the larger student body,
creating an air of exclusivity that may
be off-putting to certain segments of
the student body. Honors programs, he
believes, need an equalizer.
This year, Silva sent out letters to
eligible new students encouraging
them to enroll in the honors program.
“I would like to make sure that, when
the program goes forward, we make
sure that every student who is ready
for it feels invited and welcomed, and I
don’t feel that’s always the case on our
campus,” he said.
Over the past year, the three panelists
served as members of the criteria and
screening committees for the new
Excellence in Innovation Award, an
experience that each said they not only
enjoyed but learned from.
“I can imagine everyone
out there is at an
institution that’s running
pretty lean right now. Can
I get an amen?”
Author and Entrepreneur in Residence at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Buck Goldstein speaks.
Society Executive Director Mary Todd leads the Provosts Panel discussion at the 2016 Biennial Convention. Participating are, from left, Gene
Bourgeois, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas State University; Sara Varhus, vice president for academic affairs at Nazareth
College; and David J. Silva, provost and academic vice president, Salem State University.