Three named to key positions
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 18:02
Last December, three Arkansas State University faculty members, John Pratte, Andy Sustich and Gina Hogue, were promoted into top administrative positions, in the hopes of steering the institution further along its path of becoming a more research-intensive university. After settling into their new positions for a little over a month, these faculty reflected on their reactions to the promotions, as well as what their future plans are.
Pratte, who replaces former Dean Andy Novobilski in the college of Sciences and Mathematics, said his years of experience led him to the promotion.
“I was made interim dean last March, so a lot of those duties, I’ve been doing for nine to 10 months now, and even before that I was the associate dean Novobilski, was really good about allowing me to take on some of those duties that the dean needs to do,” Pratte said. “So in a way, I’ve been dean in training for at least the last two and a half to three years.”
Through Pratte’s several promotions in administration, from coordinator for science-education to chair of chemistry and physics, he has been preparing for the deans position.
“If you look at that progression up the ranks, it’s given me a good background into sort of all areas that the dean has to deal with,” Pratte said. “I had to interact with the K through 12 system, I’ve had to interact with colleagues across gen ed; I’ve had to interact with faculty in a department and as associate dean my duties were overseeing all the research ventures, as well as the local community.”
Pratte explained that as the dean, he’ll be looking to create more research opportunities for students.
“We really feel that for students in our field, it’s imperative that we give them research opportunities that can help them in their future careers,” Pratte said. “Whether they go on to graduate school or medical school, or industry; this gives them a leg up.”
Pratte said this plan will help students. “This is our push and you’re going to see that from us forever,” Pratte said. “With the direction that education is going, you’ve got to be giving students these kinds of opportunities.”
Pratte noted that another of his additional priorities as dean will be assisting with the establishment of a new ASU campus in Querétaro, Mexico, as faculty and students will have a new ability to study abroad.
“If you look at the type of programs the government wants us to bring over there, a lot of it’s engineering, business and stem disciplines, like biology and chemistry. So, our college is going to be a major presence in that development, and a lot of faculty are looking at this from the standpoint of ‘here are research opportunities for our students here at ASU Jonesboro, down there.”
Thankfully our school will be working as a unit to achieve these goals. “Our faculty will be working in collaboration to help each other, and I expect a healthy exchange between the two campuses, especially with the curriculum being the same and all of the instruction being in English,” Pratte said. “It’s going to be seamless for our students to be able to go down there and study in ways they can’t down here.”
Pratte also mentioned future plans to also create a Bachelor’s degree for Environmental Science (EVS).
“Our Beebe campus came to us and asked us to create a Bachelor’s program, since we already have a Master’s degree, so that students can get the first part of the degree over there, and then finish it up over here, because they have some expertise that we don’t have, and we have some expertise that they don’t have,” Pratte said. “It’s going to be the first system-wide degree between the different locations, with some coursework possibly offered through distance learning, that’s one thing we’ll be developing over the next two years.”
Andy Sustich, who has been promoted to vice provost for research and graduate students, said ASU plans to restructure the graduate school in order to further increase research opportunities.
While graduate schools usually follow two models one that separates graduate school and the research department and the other that combines the two. At ASU, the latter option was used, until 2004 when a decision was made to separate and create a new research office separate from the graduate school as we were transitioning to become a more research-intensive university.
“After about eight years of having those two offices separate, we’ve decided at this time to put them back together. Research and graduate education go hand-in-hand, and the ability to support graduate education gets difficult when they’re separated.”
Before his new job title, Sustich fulfilled three positions overseeing Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI), Research and Technology Transfer, now combined into one.
“I believe part of the decision was so that our administrative costs could be reduced by only having one position rather than three positions,” Sustich said. “The duties have encompassed all three jobs, which is more than one person can do.”
Erik Gilbert was promoted as the new associate dean for the graduate school and Malathi Srivatasn was named as the new assistant director of ABI.
“My job is more the overall vision and guidance for all three units, and they’re able to assist me with more day-to-day operations,” Sustich said.