Kelli Brown’s desk might as well read, “The buck stops here.”
As provost, Brown is responsible for overseeing academic affairs with faculty, implementing student success programs and heading the administrative areas of the university at large.
While she is not the public face of GC like President Dorman or a personal face like a professor, she is the heartbeat, connecting all areas so the university as a whole can put its best foot forward.
“My job is taking down roadblocks and helping facilitate good things that are happening,” Brown said. “That’s a great job!”
Brown brought the university into the 2010’s by applying data analytics to decision making-processes within the administration in areas like student advising and admissions, in order to pinpoint areas to improve and strengths to celebrate.
Applauding a job well done is an important aspect of Brown’s work with GC faculty.
For years, GC had an existing tradition of giving awards to faculty and staff members for excellence in areas like teaching and scholarship, along with a check.
However, Brown incentivized these awards by giving an increase in base salary, along with a statue of a bobcat designed by the art department. This way, the distinguished faculty or staff member would feel celebrated for their efforts while also seeing their excellence reflected in their paycheck.
Much of her work is not this visible and goes on behind the scenes, working directly with the deans of the four colleges on campus, as well as the Chief Information Officer and University Librarian, and reporting to President Dorman directly.
Brown delegates other academic matters and student success initiatives to two associate provosts, with whom she has regular meetings in order to stay in the loop and oversee challenges and progress.
Costas Spirou serves as the senior associate provost in charge of departments such as graduate studies, institutional research and program evaluation and development, working hand-in-hand with faculty to see their careers succeed.
When Brown stepped onto campus in 2013, she set her sights on streamlining and improving opportunities for students to succeed.
Carolyn Denard’s position of associate provost for student success manifested to fill this need. The Center for Student Success took shape by consolidating programs like Bridge Scholars, Honors and Leadership, as well as the newly created academic advising center that replaced the traditional faculty and student pairing with 19 professional advisers.
“It’s important to get good people, delegate to them, make sure they understand their responsibilities and then let them be creative and do their good work,” Brown said.
Since Brown’s start at GC, the National Scholarships Office has been formed has giving students a place to find information about and apply for internationally recognized scholarships such as the Fulbright and Truman.
“Having a one-stop place helps students and faculty,” said Anna Whiteside,
coordinator at the National Scholarships Office. “A lot of times faculty will have a really good student, but they aren’t sure what award would be the best fit, so I help them figure out what’s appropriate.”
Being provost means working behind the scenes so the players on stage can perform at their best. Brown serves the faculty and students.
“I love the engaged faculty, great students and staff [who] really care about the success of the university,” Brown said. “That is are rare combination, and we have it here at GC.”
She is at the forefront of GC’s culture of caring about each other and the university as a whole, which leads to the success of students, staff and faculty.