When it comes to running an institution, it is important have people who truly care about students’ futures. With change can come uncertainty. After NAU’s loss of the previous Provost of Student Affairs, Daniel Kain, it was up to President Rita Cheng to find someone to fill the position. In the academic world there is something called the registry. This registry is filled with retired presidents and provosts of schools around the country. President Cheng picked Brian Levin-Stankevich June 2018.
Levin-Stankevich has worked in higher education for over 30 years in universities across the country, private and state. Earning his doctorate in Russian history, Levin-Stankevich found a passion in international education and helping international students. Over the years, Levin-Stankevich has moved all the way up the ranks of higher education. He was the vice provost and the provost at Eastern Washington University, among many other schools.
“I retired in 2015 from [being] a president in Utah,” said Levin-Stankevich. “I really enjoy being provost, working with faculty to improve our academic program, making sure we have the quality that students expect.”
When using the word provost, it is not to be confused with the term provost marshall. Webster Dictionary defines the term as the head of military police in camp. Levin-Stankevich joked about the origin of the word provost.
“The definition in the old dictionary, the Oxford dictionary, the provost is the head of a prison,” Levin-Stankevich said. “But in all seriousness, its become a term somewhat synonymous with president for academic affairs, so usually the chief academic officer of the university reporting directly to the president.”
Interim means Levin-Stankevich will only be here for a year. His time here serves more so as a buffer spot while President Cheng finds someone to permanently fill the position.
“I was selected in June, so I had a few weeks to prepare. A lot of emails with people and a lot of reading,” Levin-Stankevich said. “Since I’m only here for a year, I focus on things we can actually get done in a year.”
Levin-Stankevich talked about how he wants to focus on student success and student retention during his year here at NAU. The ability to keep up and enhance teaching styles to help students in today’s generation is something important to student success on campus.
“I learn differently. I can’t tell how many years ago I was in school,” Levin-Stankevich said. “We need to understand how students learn, so we can be effective in our teaching.”
John Masserini and Laurie Dickson, both vice provosts to Levin-Stankevich, expressed how lucky they are to work with someone who has the same goals as the rest of the office for student success.
Masserini, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs only began his position Oct. 1. Before coming into this position, Masserini was the associate dean in the graduate college on campus.
“To sum it up, our big thing is student success,” said Masserini. “My job and responsibility is about student success. I think working within the university culture is an incredible opportunity to help shape students’ lives.”
Dickson, vice provost for teaching, learning design and assessment, has worked as vice provost for over two years at NAU. Dickson explains how shared goals among the vice provost and provost is an asset to keep a stable work environment.
“We complement each other, and I think that is of huge importance,” said Dickson. “We all work closely and, in some ways, he serves as a consultant.”
Levin-Stankevich’s experience with students and different universities gives him experience in knowing what exactly helps students be successful in a higher education environment.
“I can be successful by helping others becomes successful,” Levin-Stankevich said. “It’s about understanding the culture of an institution, the rest of it is talking to people and meeting people, hearing their stories.”
As a team it is important have common goals. Though Levin-Stankevich will only work at NAU for a year, his role on campus is still important as well. He essentially is preparing a somewhat clean slate for the next provost to come to the NAU campus.
“I need to be thinking, ‘OK, someone new is going to come into this position,’” Levin-Stankevich said. “What I am creating that will help this person be successful a their job?”
The team in the provost office expressed how even though Levin-Stankevich will only be here a year, he has still made an impact on the people he works with in only two short months.
“Some of our projects were established before Brian got here, and he is helping us and that is the great thing about Brian,” Masserini said. “He can give us experienced perspective to help us reach our goals.”
Levin-Stankevich is here to provide a fresh perspective on different issues on campus. He expressed how he is happy with the position of provost and doesn’t seek to be anything more than that.
“I didn’t want to do a president position again, that’s a whole different level of stress and commitment,” Levin-Stankevich said. “The provost is a broad range of things, but you don’t have to be the face of the university. I don’t have to worry about building a reputation, because that is not what I want right now.”
Levin-Stankevich’s current position is temporary and there has been no update as to who will take the position after him.