11/10/21 Boiler Com, Jay Akridge

Provost Jay Akridge congratulates Boiler Communication at an honor ceremony in 2021. He highlighted the importance of experiential learning present within the organization.

Provost Jay Akridge is one of the finest administrators I’ve worked with in my quarter century in higher education.

Rightly, he’s being recruited and may leave us for new challenges. If he does, Akridge’s successor must fully represent, in person and policy, the achievable goals of the Equity Task Force which he and Vice Provost John Gates — amazing in his own right — have championed.

I write this now because I’ll be hamstrung later. Starting about summer 2023, I will serve as chair of University Senate. So here I am in advance, pleading with our university community and incoming President Mung Chiang to reflect on the historically bleak representation, by percentage, of persons of diversity and difference in Purdue’s top administrative positions.

We must add gender to this conversation as well, and our next provost must, in person and policy, represent the diversity and difference promised by the Equity Task Force agenda. We are a powerhouse university and, pending Akridge’s situation, we should conduct a powerhouse national search for a new provost who meets our diversity and difference requirements as the Equity Task Force has acknowledged.

No lingo savvy candidates. No resume padding candidates.

And, let’s also insist that any interim provost will exemplify in person and policy the promise of the Equity Task Force.

No passes for convenience or familiarity. Period. No placeholders who then become permanent.

Remake what it means to say True Purdue. If Akridge is lured away from Purdue, among his legacy achievements will be the work of the Equity Task Force.

My simple and earnest ask is to honor the hard-won opportunity he’ll be handing us.

Don’t fail us, Purdue. New Provost = Person and policy and diversity and difference.

– English professor Brian Leung, University Senate vice-chair

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