University of South Carolina hosts William Tate at second forum in search of new provost

File Photo: Cera Hansen / The Daily Gamecock

The University of South Carolina continued its search for a new vice president of academic affairs and provost as it hosted its second open forum with William Tate on Tuesday. 

Tate, who was also a candidate in USC's presidential search, is currently dean and vice provost of graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis.

The search committee first asked Tate what opportunity and challenges he saw in the university's upcoming transition to a hybrid responsibility center management system (RCM) model. 

 An RCM is a form of management, like a company, that introduces a social and environmental angle toward planning and budgeting. 

Tate said he has a lot of experience working in a modified RCM model and discussed the challenges and opportunities working under this model.

"Generally there's a burden shifting from the old model to the new model," Tate said. "And the capacity that has to exist in the unit that is taking over the money has to be significant. If not, you are not able to innovate in the ways that you should be."

Another challenge to the switch Tate spoke on was an increased communication burden, which he said requires "constantly explaining what you're doing and transparency."

Tate said the model also causes shifts in responsibility and accountability among university leaders.

"Historically, the provost is the head, and generally speaking, when everybody's mad at someone, they are mad at the provost," Tate said. "But in a RCM model, the buck stops with the dean, so the dean absolutely better be transparent and be able to explain what's happening because it's not the provost that necessarily that is making the decision."

Tate said the opportunities an RCM model presents are incentive for revenue generation, increased cost-effectiveness, fostering transparency, linking finances and innovation and connecting strategic prioritization to the financial model.

Tate was asked by an audience member his opinion on colleges poaching students from other colleges.

"One part of it that I think has some real positive aspects is that each group really works hard to create a climate where students want to be in," Tate said. "But students also say that they feel like, you know,  'I don't want to be in a cult ... like you're trying to keep me here, and I want to go over there.'" 

Tate was also asked about contingent faculty members and adjunct professors.

"In terms of building an economic model on contingent faculty, I, it breaks my heart," Tate said. "I don't think it is [an] optimal way for students to learn."

Additionally, Tate was asked how he would recruit a more diverse faculty and staff.

"You need an ambassador, and you need Dawn Staley," Tate said. "What I'm saying is part of it is a recruiting process, and then part of it is, 'Do you have a strategy to entice people?'"

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