LSU Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Candidate Robert “Bobby” Schnabel Gives Presentation
BATON ROUGE – LSU welcomed the first of four candidates for the position of executive vice chancellor & provost to campus for an open forum on Thursday, March 1. Robert “Bobby” Schnabel, dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University, met with members of LSU’s faculty and staff in the Claude L. Shaver Theatre in the Music & Dramatic Arts Building.
With an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Dartmouth, Schnabel earned both his master’s and Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University. After spending 30 years at the University of Colorado in Boulder, including serving as the vice provost and associate vice chancellor for academic and campus technology from 1998-2007, he became the dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University in Bloomington in July 2007.
For his presentation, Schnabel briefly discussed his academic career and then elaborated on his vision for higher education and his direction for LSU if he were to be named executive vice chancellor & provost.
While he has no previous ties to LSU, he had developed a partnership with Dillard University in New Orleans while working at the University of Colorado and is familiar with the area. He said that one of the major attractions for him to this position was LSU’s status as the flagship university in Louisiana, and that this would be a new challenge.
In addition, he has been passionate about diversity throughout his academic career and liked the opportunity to help with LSU’s diversity. He stressed that diversity was not just about providing increased opportunities, but also to help train the workforce necessary to fill jobs in the future and to increase the scope of innovation.
“It may be more difficult to work on a diverse team,” said Schnabel, “but the results are always better.”
Knowing that a strong teaching background is essential for a position like this, Schnabel directed the audience to view his curriculum vitae, or CV, to learn more about his teaching credentials. In the forum, he focused on his career as an administrator, citing his role in starting the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society, or ATLAS, Institute at the University of Colorado, which focuses on a multidisciplinary curriculum and research. In addition, he discussed Indiana University’s Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology, or BEST, prizes, the largest awards offered by a university for a business plan competition for its students, and that he wrote Indiana’s strategic plan for online education.
In his discussion about his vision for higher education, he pointed out what he thought were the good, bad and ugly. An incurable optimist, he had eight points that he covered in the section on the good, compared with only four for the bad and ugly. His good points were:
- necessity of higher education; flagship trains the leaders;
- education for life and careers;
- economic development and community engagement;
- international/global opportunities;
- online and distance education opportunities;
- environment/health/energy key foci; and
- philanthropy and co-investment.
In discussing the necessity of higher education, he pointed out that most of the leaders in a state have been trained at a state flagship institution.
“Flagship universities need to realize that role in training leaders,” said Schnabel.
Schnabel also made a point of discussing international and global opportunities.
“Most universities get students that are mostly regional,” said Schnabel. “We need to help those students to get more experience both nationally and internationally.”
In contrast to his good points, his bad points were focused primarily on monetary issues. Those points were:
- state support decreasing (everywhere);
- federal research support steady at best;
- accountability and investment are inversely proportional; and
- with higher tuition comes higher expectations.
Schnabel then turned his attention to his direction for LSU. He pointed out that his first goal would be stability and meeting with the members of the university early on so that he could learn more about what was going on. He also stressed that he would build upon Flagship 2020 as the strategic plan.
One of the points of emphasis for Schnabel was defining the areas that LSU excels in or is unique and to take advantage of those areas. Later during the question and answer session, he quickly noted four areas he knew of that LSU should stress, including coastal issues, energy, the unique culture of Louisiana, and computation and technology.
He also stressed that LSU should be a major destination for international students. He discussed a recent trip to India and the fact that India has 30 million more students than their university system can handle so many of their students look to attend college elsewhere. He said that LSU needs a strategy to create strong ties and actively recruit international students from the up-and-coming economies, namely India, but also Brazil, China and Mexico.
Lastly, he discussed helping LSU become a leader in diversity. He stressed that the university’s diversity should not only be internal – students and faculty – but should also be diversity in the partnerships LSU has outside of the university, something he has been impressed by when learning more about LSU.
Following his presentation, Schnabel roamed the audience and fielded questions about how he makes decisions and interacts with faculty members, his plan for online education, the role of arts and humanities in an increasing push for entrepreneurship and vocational skills, and some of the major issues facing the faculty in the future.
More information on Schnabel is available at www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/provost/CV/SchnabelRobertVitaeLSUEVCP.pdf.
Schnabel was the first of four candidates to be interviewed and give a presentation to the LSU faculty and staff. The other candidates for executive vice chancellor & provost include:
- Kevin Carman, dean of the LSU College of Science. He will give his presentation on Monday, March 5, at 2 p.m. in Room 143 of Charles E. Coates Hall. More information on Carman is available at www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/provost/CV/CarmanKevinVitaeLSUEVCP.pdf.
- Michael J. O'Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. He will give his presentation on Wednesday, March 7, at 2 p.m. in Room 143 of Charles E. Coates Hall. More information on O’Brien is available at www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/provost/CV/OBrienMichaeVitaeLSUEVCP.pdf.
- Stuart R. Bell, dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas. He will give his presentation on Friday, March 9, at 2 p.m. in Room 143 of Charles E. Coates Hall. More information on Bell is available at www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/provost/CV/BellStuartVitaeLSUEVCP.pdf.
To learn more about the LSU executive vice chancellor & provost search, visit www.lsu.edu/provostsearch.