Steven Erickson, a candidate for Grand Rapids Community College provost, met with faculty and staff during the GRCC Faculty Association’s third provost search forum on Monday, May 22.
Erickson currently serves as the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Technology Solutions at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, also known as M State.
He described his jobat M State as “…the chief coherency officer of an institution. (My) job is to make sense of what’s going on. To talk about… prioritization, to get people moving in the same direction, and… provide an environment that can be successful for students, faculty, and staff.”
Erickson said that his unique professional experience is what makes him a strong candidate for provost.
“I have kind of an atypical experience for a provost role… I have over 20 years (experience in higher education.) I’ve been faculty for five, six years. I taught (statistics) while I was an administrator, but in the last several years I’ve been working very heavily in institutional effectiveness.”
Erickson also stated that he feels prepared for community college systems after working with at-risk students who haven’t traditionally been served by higher education systems. A full bio on Erickson, including his education and professional history can be found here.
Throughout his presentation, Erickson stressed the need for open communication, collaboration, innovation, and making data-informed decisions.
On the subject of school safety Erickson said, “…It’s not a problem that’s ever, I think, going to be solved. …I think it’s one that includes a great deal of collaboration to come forward with the policies and procedures that can mitigate risk. I don’t think we can eliminate the risk, ever. It’s scary. …I think there (are) some security features… that any institution can consider… We need to have the conversations…I think that’s just a completely collaborative effort across the institution.”
While addressing the academic freedom of faculty, which is the freedom of professors to discuss issues in their field without interference from other entities, Erickson said he disagreed with what is happening to education in Florida.
“It’s a weird time in higher ed…” he said. “I don’t understand how (some of) these institutions are going to be able to maintain accreditation.”
Erickson said protecting academic freedom, “…comes down to standing up for it and not being afraid to talk about it… and part of that is being prepared to really understand what the issues are so you can talk directly to them… Because what’s happening in higher education is just simply unacceptable in some regions.”
After the forum, The Collegiate asked Erickson what message he had for students.
“I think one thing for students to know is really that their input should be… valued throughout the institution. And… they should be able to kind of shape the direction that the intuition is headed to some degree… I really value their input into processes and try to include them whenever I’m able to.”
The fourth and final provost forum will be held at 3 p.m. on May 25 with John Fields at the Applied Technology Center in room 168.