University of North Carolina provost Dana Dunn stopped by the Education Dive office last week and spoke about her experience getting involved in higher education administration, as well as how she uses her position as an executive to support different initiatives on campus.
"I had no idea when I became a faculty member that I would ever become a provost. In fact the idea was not very amenable to me at the time; I loved being a faculty member, a researcher, and I loved being in the classroom," said Dunn.
She explained, however, that when the opportunity came for her to take on a leadership role on campus, she realized that she loved it and continued to take on more, eventually becoming a provost. Based on her own experience, she said that she uses her position to encourage other talented faculty to consider administrative roles and broaden their horizons.
Dunn said it's important for leaders to be role models and encourage talented faculty members to consider taking on administrative roles — as these types of experiences can "whet the appetite" and inspire movement toward executive positions.
Working on a campus with diverse students, Dunn said addressing the needs of all students begins with administrators actively committing to helping students and recognizing that the position can be used to "make a difference."
And as UNCG, founded in 1891, has grown to become the largest and most diverse university in the Triad region of North Carolina, Dunn also said as a leader she commits to considering diversity throughout her job, because she realizes her position can be used to help all students succeed.
"We are technically what is called a minority serving institution, approaching half of our students are from underserved populations, and we have a real track record of success with these students...," she said.
"I have a real passion for that space in education because I believe that it has the opportunity to change the lives, not just of the students, but the families, the communities ... so a passionate commitment, I think is the starting point for success ... because we will make a difference in the world by helping these students live up to their aspirations and hopes."
Dunn also spoke about the importance of administrators developing a broad array of support systems, such as financial planning or academic counseling. But truly, serving all students, she says, has to be a "part of the culture" or the "DNA" of the university to be successful.
More of the the interview is available on Facebook Live via the Education Dive page.