12/7/22 Provost Finalist Eric Barker, goals

Dean of Pharmacy Eric Barker speaks about what his goals would be as Provost.

The university should begin to think about unfreezing tuition, provost candidate Eric Barker said during his “From Excellent to Elite” presentation Wednesday morning in Fowler Hall.

“Affordability and accessibility has been really the core of one of our messages for the past 10 years; it has been the core message to holding tuition,” said Barker, the current dean of the College of Pharmacy. “We know we can’t hold tuition constant forever.”

Although he appreciates the frozen tuition, Barker has some ideas about how to accommodate students after it raises.

He said fundraising for scholarships can help offset the potential increase in tuition.

Barker said philanthropy will be an important role for the provost in the next five years.

“I anticipate that there will be a very aggressive capital campaign launched by President-elect (Mung) Chiang,” Barker said, but added that he has no actual first-hand knowledge.

If this is the case, then the deans and department heads need to be equipped to support aggressive philanthropy needs, Barker said, like with the fundraising he did while he was dean.

During his time as dean, the college was able to raise $150 million through fundraising over the course of five and a half years. This is more than the prior 130 years combined.

But the provost has a bigger job description and closer relationship to the general student body than a dean does.

The academic success and the safety of students rests in the provost office, Barker said, and there needs to be a good relationship between the student body and the provost.

This relationship should encompass all topics, including one prevalent in many students’ minds: sexual assault.

“We will have a very open and transparent conversation to ensure that voices are heard, and we will seek to move to a level of understanding,” Barker said, “so we can understand how we handle these situations, how we respond to them, how we support students and how we create a climate and a culture that does not compromise safety on our campus.”

Lastly, Barker acknowledged the diverse staff Purdue has within both its West Lafayette and Indianapolis campuses.

“There is a whole group of faculty that want to live in Indianapolis, not West Lafayette. We have the opportunity to bring them in as a part of Purdue,” Barker said, because Indianapolis is more urban and attractive to many people than West Lafayette is.

There will be two more finalist talks, with dean of the College of Science Patrick Wolfe and dean of the College of Human Health and Sciences Marion Underwood. The talks will be from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

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