Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Washburn announces John Fritch as new provost

John Fritch, the new provost at Washburn, gives a speech at FYE Scholars. He has planned to participate on campus events to get to know the university. ((Courtesy of the Mabee Library staff))

Washburn University announces Fritch as the new provost and vice president of the Academic Affairs Office Feb. 19. His position requires him to get reports from all academic areas of the university to support the faculty and students to ensure all have a good experience.

“Provost usually means that you are kind of second in command to the president of the university and then they sometimes add things that go a little bit beyond academics,” Fritch said. “I want to be seen as someone who is accessible to students.”

Fritch received an email from a search firm that asked if he would be interested in looking at the job. He was not aware that the job position was from Washburn, but after contacting the search firm, he got to learn more about the university.

“I grew up in Nebraska, and Washburn often played Nebraska Kearney in athletics. So I had heard about them that way,” Fritch said. “ …but then I visited with some folks and the more I learned about it, the more interested I became in the position.”

Michaela Saunders is the assistant to the provost and the vice president for academic affairs. She is also the communications coordinator for academic affairs. She shares what is going on as the provost in the Academic Affairs Office.

“I think the role is sort of the academic leader of the university and there is a lot going on,” Saunders said. “Right now, in sort of program development [is] on the way that we are working to respond to different things that are happening in the world and I think that is going to continue.”

Fritch expresses his excitement to work at Washburn. He showed his particular interest in the flexibility of the Washburn admission process.

“I am really excited about the commitment to access,” Fritch said. “Anybody who graduates from high school or gets their GEDs are welcome at Washburn. And then we have seen the students go on and get about the life changing experiences of first-generation college students who get the chance to change their family for generations.”

Fritch has been at Washburn for more than a month and has been actively participating in various campus activities. His interest in campus events has helped him get to know the university better.

“Usually try to go to two or three things that are happening on campus each week just to see people, get to know the campus community a little bit better,” Fritch said.

According to the Washburn University website, Fritch will be providing primary administrative leadership for all academic activities, administrative leaders and faculty affairs for Washburn’s six colleges and schools, including Washburn Tech. He was selected through a national search that included an extensive interview process, campus visits and input from a broad range of students, faculty, staff and stakeholders.

Fritch meets with professors in the Memorial Union. Professors from all across campus came to meet the new provost and get tp know him. (LeSha’ Davis)

“… [Fritch] has been working really hard to get to know everybody and sort of understand who we are as a university, and I think he really has a knack for asking good questions,” Saunders said. “He is not coming in with an attitude of things are needing to be fixed. No, it is much more of ‘How can I help this get better or stronger or what is really going on right now?’”

Fritch served as dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) for 21 years. He talks about why he made a decision to come over to Washburn.

“So a couple of things: one is President Mazachek; I like her a lot,” Fritch said. “ The fact that she had come back to be here and when I was interviewing, people said ‘She came back home’ — to me it says she really cares about the university.”

Fritch will succeed Laura Stephenson, who has served as interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at Washburn. She is planning to retire by the end of May. Her current role at the university is special assistant to the president.

“I am finishing up some of the projects that I was working on when I was interim provost,” Stephenson said. “I am also helping Dr. Fritch as he learns about Washburn and learns about the duties of the provost here.”

Stephenson has been working at Washburn for 39 years. She talks about some of the changes she has seen so far in the university.

“I think certainly we have changed in how we do instructions because now we do online classes, hybrid classes, and the student body has changed,” Stephenson said. “The other thing that I think has changed is there is much more focus on student’s success than when I started. One of the things that has been consistent in all of my years is, what I view is, the close relationship faculty have with students and that seems like it has been there when I started and I think it is still here.”

Being one of the longest employers at the university, Stephenson expresses her ideas after retirement.

“I want to try some other things that are not well defined but just explore and embrace this new period of life for me,” Stephenson said. “Part of my retirement will be figuring out what I am gonna do.”

Fritch shows his appreciation for Washburn University. He expresses his liking as he is exploring the campus.

“Some schools get to be good because they pick out the very best and brightest,” Fritch said. “But we get to be a very good school by working with everybody and that is very cool to me. So, I am really excited about that and things really made me go ‘Oh, Washburn has a great reputation.’”

Fritch shares his ideas on ways to help students who are minorities or non-traditional. He goes on to discuss his plans and visions for the university.

“One of my goals is to help make sure that they feel a real sense of belonging here that we take some time and understand, you know, different people have different kinds of challenges, different situations,” Fritch said. “They have been treated differently by the world and to try to make them feel like it is okay to be here that this is a positive place to be for them to help them meet their goals.”

Stephenson looks forward to Fritch’s work at Washburn. She shares her impression of the new provost.

“He struck me as a very affable, knowledgeable person who is very easy to talk to,” Stephenson said. “He is going to be a terrific addition to the university and provide great leadership for academic affairs.”

Fritch is planning on meeting with the student government sometime in March and is planning on going to the undergraduate research day at the state capitol this week. He is looking forward to his new journey at Washburn..

Edited by Jeremy Ford and Aja Carter

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Stuti Khadka, Editor
Hey, I am Stuti! I am a freshman psychology and nursing major. I am a copy editor and content creator at Student Media where I write stories on campus events and meet people with their unique life experiences. After graduation, I plan on working in hospitals and contributing myself to the medical community and perhaps someday I hope on publishing my own book filled with small stories.
LeSha' Davis, Editor-in-Chief Indigo Magazine and Managing Editor Washburn Review
LeSha Davis is the managing editor for the review. She is an english major, who enjoys reading and hopes to become an attorney in the future. Her favorite book genre is fantasy. The one she is currently reading is called Skin of the Sea, a book about an African mermaid saving a man who fell from a slave ship. LeSha' also loves television and movies with some of her favorite genres being anime, drama and hospital shows. An interesting fact about her is that her favorite colors are dark blue, purples and either bright green or dark green; no in between.
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