As new West Virginia University Provost Maryanne Reed steps into her role this week, she has announced several appointments in the Office of the Provost that speak to her commitment to establishing a dynamic leadership team that proactively addresses critical institutional needs.
“I know from my long experience as dean the importance of having in place a strong leadership team.” Reed said. “The Provost’s Office focuses on programs and priorities that drive the academic mission and impact both students and faculty. We owe it to the entire campus to put people with expertise and experience in key roles.”
Effective immediately, Reed said, Melissa Latimer will serve as associate provost for faculty development and culture, a new position designed to support and develop faculty and to prepare them for leadership roles. Evan Widders will serve as associate provost for undergraduate education and will lead both retention efforts and the development of new academic programs. Lou Slimak will serve as assistant provost for curriculum, assessment and accreditation.
A professor of sociology, Latimer has directed the WVU ADVANCE Center since she was instrumental in securing an NSF ADVANCE grant for the university in 2010. As the Center has transitioned from an externally-funded to internally-supported unit, Latimer has expanded her mission to address unconscious bias in the search process, departmental culture and leadership training consistent with best practices in diversity. She and her team have also developed a rigorous professional development curriculum that they have delivered at institutions nationally.
In her new role, Latimer will oversee the people, policies and practices that foster transformative mindsets at all levels. She will focus specifically on recognition and rewards for academic personnel; academic leadership development, recruitment and training; and initiatives that promote a diverse and inclusive culture.
“This position is a natural next step in addressing the needs of academic personnel at a large, complex land grant university in the 21st century,” Reed said. “Dr. Latimer brings highly relevant experience to the role, and she is committed to the creation of a supportive, engaging and inclusive faculty culture.
Latimer will work closely with the associate provost for academic personnel, a role that is currently posted and that Reed expects to have filled by this fall. That office has long been led by C.B. Wilson, who will leave the University Aug. 30 after more than 40 years of service.
Currently the coordinator of the Multidisciplinary Studies Program and of entrepreneurial innovation in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, as well as director of the university’s Regents Bachelor of Arts, Widders served as an Academic Leadership Fellow from 2017-2019. In that capacity, he has worked on initiatives such as transfer procedures and formulation of academic policies. Widders was identified as the new associate provost for undergraduate education following a posted position and an internal search last month. Widders will report to Vice Provost Paul Kreider.
“Evan Widders is a thoughtful, collaborative leader who combines a demonstrated capacity for strategic, smart ideas with tremendous compassion for our students,” Kreider said. “He will be great asset in the Office of Undergraduate Education as we seek to engage our entire institution in efforts to help students from all backgrounds and in all disciplines successfully earn their WVU degrees.”
In his new role, Widders will create, implement and manage the strategic direction of retention and policy for undergraduate education on all WVU campuses and bring new vision for developing innovative programs and curricula.
Slimak is currently the director of academic excellence and assessment in the Office of the Provost, reporting directly to Kreider and working closely with critical academic units across the university, including the Center for Learning, Advising and Student Success and the University Advisory Council. He will continue to report to Kreider in his newly-configured position as assistant provost for curriculum and assessment and accreditation, providing institutional leadership in program development, review, assessment, quality assurance, policy and operational evaluation. Slimak will also serve as WVU’s accreditation liaison officer to the Higher Learning Commission and oversee the university’s HLC accreditation processes.
“Lou Slimak has already played a pivotal role in helping us identify curricular and policy issues and then address those issues decisively and positively,” Kreider said. “He understands that assessment and compliance are about more than checking boxes. We need to consider the implications of our assessment and policy practices for both our students and our faculty—and Lou never loses track of that.”