Presidential Search Complete, Clarion Provost to Assume Position

Dr. Ronald Nowaczyk has been declared the next president of Frostburg State University. Nowaczyk, the current Provost of Clarion University, will assume his position on May 9, 2016, when current Interim President Dr. Tom Bowling will return to his position as Vice President for Student Affairs.  The announcement came in the early morning of February 16 from University System of Maryland President Robert Caret.Head shot

Nowaczyk joined Clarion University in 2011 as the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Previously, he served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor in the psychology department at the University of New Haven, a post he held since 2006. Before serving in New Haven, Nowaczyk was the Associate Vice Chancellor of East Carolina University from 2003-2006.

Nowaczyk told The Bottom Line in an email that Frostburg’s “commitment to student-centered learning and emphasis on experiential learning” was a contributing factor to his application for the position.

“As I went through the interview process, I became more convinced that FSU has many opportunities for success,” he said.  “I enjoyed the energy and openness of the search committee members and their hope for a president who is transparent, a communicator, and consensus-builder.” Nowaczyk also cited the relationship between FSU and the University System of Maryland as a positive aspect of the process, specifically noting the “the respect that the Chancellor and Board of Regents from the University System have for Frostburg State University.”

Interim President Tom Bowling stated that he anticipates “working closely with Dr. Nowaczyk during this transition.” Dr. Bowling “had the opportunity to talk with him briefly on Monday” and is “looking forward to working with him.”

When asked if his transition from provost to president could be a challenging one, Nowaczyk turned to his past experience working closely with university presidents as preparation for the role. “I do not believe the transition will be difficult,” Nowaczyk stated. ” I have been fortunate to have worked closely on leadership teams with several presidents in the past.  In my opinion, it is important to have an effective leadership team with the support of the faculty, staff, and students in any planning process.  I have talked with [Interim] President Bowling and I look forward to working with him during this transition period.”

When asked about potential interim position changes initiated by Dr. Nowaczyk, including that of the interim Provost, Dr. Bowling stated: “I anticipate that Dr. Nowaczyk will spend some time getting to know the campus and the staff, and then make changes that he feels are in the best interest of the University.”

Indeed, Nowazyk echoed this sentiment when asked about any specific agenda items that he may bring to the campus, stating: “there is no agenda other than keeping a focus on student success and how I can help faculty and staff meet their goals.  My next few months will be spent learning and listening.”

Bowling added that he anticipates Dr. Jay Hegeman, who has served as interim Vice President for Student Affairs during Bowling’s interim presidency, will return to his former position as Associate Provost, adding that “we have been very fortunate that [Hegeman] has been willing to wear many different hats during the past several months.”

 Katelyn Currier, former FSU Student Government Association President and member of the presidential search committee, stated that she was “impressed by Ronald Nowaczyk’s interview and felt he would be a great candidate to send to the board of regents.” Currier continued, stating, “I was thrilled when I learned he would become the university’s new president. I am excited to see how he will continue the work of improving Frostburg’s campus and educational programs. He has done impressive work at his other universities and I look forward to see the impact that will come of his presidency.”

Nowaczyk’s time at Clarion University is characterized by his accomplishments as Provost, which the University System of Maryland lists as: “facilitating new degree programs to respond to student and workforce demand,” “increasing the online program offerings at the bachelor’s degree level,” “enhancing opportunities for faculty scholarship, research, and outreach,” and “developing an academic strategic plan focused on increasing student enrollment and graduation rates.”

At Frostburg, however, Nowaczyk states that his “primary focus continues to be the student experience and student success.” Nowaczyk emphasizes this approach in describing his upcoming transition: “I look forward to meeting with students and student leadership on my first official visit to campus… I hope to learn about Frostburg State University through the students’ lens.”

In 2013, Nowaczyk, as well as Clarion President Karen Whitney, were forced by an $8 million deficit to let go of 40 employees across the campus and eliminate the Clarion College of Education. Programs within this college were reportedly distributed throughout other schools of the university. These actions were met with protest from select students and faculty. These drastic actions were a result of Clarion’s financial deficit as well as declining enrollment numbers. While Frostburg State witnessed its highest enrollment ever this year, the Mid-Atlantic region is currently facing a dwindling number of higher-education students. Clarion President Whitney currently chairs the Middle States visiting team that is renewing FSU’s accreditation.

When asked about the presidential search committee’s process and whether the committee was unanimous on the merits of a Nowaczyk presidency, Dr. Sydney Duncan, Associate Provost stated: “the committee members had a difficult decision determining which candidates should be interviewed by the Board of Regents, and Dr. Nowaczyk was one of several candidates that the committee members felt were qualified for the position of president. After some intense discussion, the committee reached general agreement on which candidates should be put forward.” Duncan later clarified that, “The discussions were no more intense around Dr. Nowaczyk than they were around other candidates. The committee had to send a limited number of candidate names to the Board of Regents. Therein was the intensity – narrowing the candidate field from a number of qualified individuals.”

Ronald Nowaczyk received both his Ph.D. and masters in psychology from Miami University in Ohio. Nowaczyk holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.

The Bottom Line is awaiting comment from other members of the presidential search committee.

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