Provost finalist Eric Eisenberg, who currently holds the interim position, shared during Thursday’s town hall how he planned to tackle his potential provost goals surrounding diversity and accessible education.
During the hourlong meeting, there were 17 people in attendance at the Patel Center for Global Sustainability and about 114 viewers watching online.
One goal in mind for Eisenberg is to increase the population and diversity of students by sending representatives to local middle and high schools. He also wishes to partner with groups such as the Helios Education Foundation and Black Leadership Network.
“We don’t want to be the best kept secret in our communities,” Eisenberg said. “There’s certain high schools in these three metro areas [USF, UCF, FIU] that don’t even offer AP courses that would provide somebody with the opportunity to even think about getting into a place like us.
“That’s what I mean when I say we have to get into the communities.”
He also spoke of retiring the phrase “America’s fastest rising university” because of the negative connotation it produces. USF’s success was compared to a mountain climber since it is slowly ascending but has not quite hit its peak.
“What got us here, is not going to get us to the next place,” Eisenberg said.
Another plan Eisenberg hopes to accomplish if he is selected is to make learning more accessible for everyone, and not just full-time students.
Eisenberg said he wants to focus on improving the faculty environment and allow them to “feel at home” by providing better research opportunities and facilities.
He also introduced the idea of equal opportunity at all three campuses. This will allow students to gain the same amount of information without needing to transfer campuses. Eisenberg wants to eradicate the “us vs. them” mindset by creating a system to manage the funding of each campus.
“Everybody’s going to have a home campus … and everybody is going to have a college or support unit that they’re part of, and those don’t have to be in conflict with each other,” he said.
So far in his term as interim provost and executive vice president, Eisenberg has laid a foundation for what he wants the position to look like. When he first stepped into this job, he scheduled meetings with the faculty senate because they are a “better advocate for the faculty.”
Originally, Eisenberg said he did not want to run for the provost position, he said. However, President Rhea Law’s leadership style is what encouraged him to apply.
“What I realized was that [Law’s] leadership style was so in sync with my leadership that she listened, she cares, she is interested in us as a community,” he said. “I would just love to see us be more welcoming, so that we can provide just in time education to whoever needs it whenever they need it.”