Khator: USF needs to shift to get to next level

It was almost 20 years ago that Renu Khator came to USF as a visiting professor. But today, Khator, who has held the position of interim provost at USF for the past year, is one of the top four candidates being considered for the second most important position at the university level-provost.

On Friday afternoon, Khator met with more than 45 faculty members from the different USF campuses in a forum at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center. The candidate for provost gave a presentation on the challenges faced by universities on a national and state level as well as the challenges facing USF.

Khator cited in her 20-minute presentation a shifting model for the purpose of higher education and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act as two of the challenges nationwide.

In regards to state challenges, Khator said budget cuts are also issues that should be addressed.

“Construction support in state universities has significantly dropped,” Khator said.

Regarding USF’s issues, Khator talked about reaccreditation, work environment and resource stabilization as some of the challenges facing the faculty and the administrators are dealing with.

Khator said in order to get to the next level, USF needs a paradigm shift, a culture shift and an identity shift.

“First and foremost, (USF) is about knowledge,” Khator said. “(USF) has to focus on the dissemination of knowledge and the application of knowledge.”

In terms of USF’s plans for the immediate future, Khator discussed a project called the “Enhanced Summer,” that would funnel summer revenue directly to the departments instead of the school.

Mohsen Milani, chairman of the International and Government Affairs department and a faculty member who was present at the forum, questioned Khator on how long the “Enhanced” project would last, a project that he called a privatization of summer classes.

Khator began to answer Milani’s question by saying that she would rather refer to the project as department-based summer program and added that the project will last as long as the departments keep benefiting from it.

Abdelwahab Hechiche, an international studies professor, asked Khator about the possibilities of restoring trust between USF administration and faculty through collective bargaining.

Khator mentioned that although it would have been nice to see members from the administration present at the faculty forum, she said better communication is a must.

“It’s a significant issue,” Khator said. “For survival purposes, we need the engagement of everybody.”

The fourth candidate, Anthony Garro of Lehmman College of City University of New York, will be with campus groups today.