How to Become a Provost

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Postsecondary institutions are complex facilities of academics that require complex administration to ensure the effective function and meet the needs of the students, faculty, staff, and community. Provosts are senior academic administrations of higher education institutions that perform a variety of essential activities.


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What does a provost do?

Provosts are typically responsible for supervising and directing instructional, curricular, and research affairs of their postsecondary institution. In many postsecondary institutions, provosts are regarded as the second-ranking officer of the institution. They create budgets, arrange appointments, make decisions regarding tenure, and establish academic policies and programs. They provide assistance to the presidents of institutions and direct and organize the tasks of deans and chairpersons of specific academic colleges and departments. They also handle recruitment, academic programming, and the concerns of faculty and staff. Provosts assess the needs of the institution and strive to ensure that academic excellence and the mission of the institution is achieved.

What kind of training does a provost need?

Provosts typically need at least a master degree in education administration, college student affairs, and educational leadership. Many provosts have doctoral degrees. Prospective provosts typically complete courses in educational leadership, politics in education, school law, research design and data analysis, counseling, community relations, and school finance and budgeting. Many provosts begin their career at lower level positions and advance into higher positions after gaining the essential skills and experience. Many have held academic professor or office administration positions. Provosts must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures of their postsecondary institution. They must also stay up to date with the advancements in the education field and they often complete continuing education throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a provost?

Employment of provosts is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% fro 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing of the student population at the postsecondary level and growth of postsecondary institutions will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good with strong competition. Provosts with extensive experience and advanced education will have the best job opportunities. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace provosts that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do provosts make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of provosts earn annual salaries between $103,508 and $158,777. The top 10% earn annual salaries more than $186,427 (2).

A career as a provost is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in the administration of higher education institutions. Provosts must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures of their postsecondary institution and the ability to make executive decisions that benefit the institution as a whole. Good leadership, problem solving, critical thinking, confidence, and motivation are essential characteristics. Provosts must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a variety of students, faculty, and other academic professionals.

Joshua T Osborne

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