El-Saidi,Pembrook present for open VPAA position

The search for the new Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) continued as candidate Mohammed El-Saidi gave his presentation last Tuesday.


El-Saidi is currently the associate vice president for academic affairs at Utah Valley University. Previously a dean and professor of math at Texas A&M-Central Texas, El-Saidi discussed the basics of higher education as well as his personal views regarding the future of Washburn University.


 According to a handout received by each member of the crowd, El-Saidi believes the VPAA should be able to “work with the president and other vice presidents as a professional team.” As well, El-Saidi believes that the relationship between faculty members is an important part of a university’s program.


“For us to succeed, the VPAA must have a very strong relationship with the faculty,” said El-Saidi. “I do believe in shared governments. Clearly it is based on democratic ideas.”


El-Saidi believes in an open door policy, which allows faculty to openly come in and discuss important issues or talk about day-to-day life; therefore, he also feels strongly about the relationship between the staff and faculty of the university being at a trusting and personable level.


“It must be based upon trust and transparency. Transparency is extremely important,” said El-Saidi.  “If the faculty knows what I’m doing, [if] they are aware of the demands of the academic affairs and they are part of the decision making process, they will march behind.  They will support me.”


El-Saidi, if chosen, says he’d like to see about a lower tuition rate in order to attract more straight from high school students.  He also discussed the issue of community colleges and the challenge to make Washburn transfer friendly.


Noting the positive comments he heard about Washburn so far, the issue of decreased quality of education at Washburn could be a problem if the “transfer friendly” idea was enforced.

“We have to be user friendly, or transfer friendly, but we should not sacrifice the quality of education,” said El-Saidi.


El-Saidi applauded Washburn for its academic excellence as well as the small class sizes, which he said are important to student learning.  Reiterating his idea of faculty equality and excellence, El-Saidi added a final comment to the future of Washburn.


“I believe there are a lot of opportunities here, and you have great faculty,” said El-Saidi.


For more information regarding El-Saidi and the competing candidates, students and faculty may visit MyWashburn.


Buzz about the candidacy for the new vice president of academic affairs continues to be a trending topic among faculty at Washburn, as Randall Pembrook presented Friday afternoon in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.


Currently the executive vice president and provost at Baker University, Pembrook discussed changes that have been recently implemented at Baker. One important connection has been made to Johnson County Community College in Kansas City, Kan.


“They are creating a special honors liberal arts program within the community college,” said Pembrook. “They have designated a program for these students that I’m talking about, and there’s no reason why Baker needs to get all of these students. Washburn can get some of these students too.”


Pembrook supposed enrollment could also be increased with a larger variety of sports to choose from. He talked of an instance where a bowling team and wrestling team had been implemented in a school, recruiting 60 students that otherwise would have gone to a different school.


“I think athletics provide some great opportunities for recruiting,” said Pembrook. “I think athletics can help Washburn grow in enrollment.”


Pembrook spoke animatedly continuing to discuss enrollment and the innovations that will need to be done in all schools in order for students to want to attend.  The idea of new technology is an ongoing challenge for faculty and students that will continue to change in the future.


 Pembrook said that the use of clickers, a technology used by some universities to record student participation, would easily help in larger class sizes, as well as keep up with the demand of technology. As well, employers will expect students to come out of college understanding the way technology grows and the way it works.


“I think they’re going to want a different format of teaching,” said Pembrook of employers. “I think we’re making a change in the next few years.”


In order for students to get the education they need from faculty, wages were also a point of concern addressed. The faculty in the audience showed their concern as they questioned his opinion on salary raises.


“I think that you have to figure out a way to get money into the salary pool,” said Pembrook. “You can’t expect, long-term, to retain your great faculty if the consistent message is: there are no wage raises.”


Pembrook continued to answer questions by many faculty and staff members during the interview portion of the presentation. The full speech, along with a resume and application letter can be viewed on MyWashburn.