Ever wonder what the provost thinks about?
One might imagine Dr. Warren G. Sandmann hunched behind his Raubinger Hall desk, contemplating the University’s budget or Core Curriculum. Perhaps, occasionally, he glances over a stack of papers piled high, sighs and returns to the heavy material at hand.
It turns out he also thinks about the weather, the so-called “death of reading” and how to best communicate his ideas to the university community.
This brings us to blogs; specifically his. Since late December, Sandmann has been posting about once a week on his newly created university blog, entitled, The Reserved Provost, a play on his reserved parking sign, a photo which appears on the site.
“There’s so much negative press about what’s going on in higher education,” he said. “Our budget issues are tough. There’s lots of people in the media who are criticizing higher education, lots of legislative people are looking at it and thinking that we’re doing some things wrong and while there’s room for improvement, there’s also lots of things we’re doing well. So this is just a chance to talk a little more informally about some of the good things that are going on and some of the issues that are facing us.”
Sandmann has been working as the provost at WPU since the fall of 2013. He previously served as associate provost at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2011 and was associate vice president for academic affairs since 2009. He also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in communication at the State University of New York, Genesceo and was a lecturer at San Jose University.
The provost has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a Master of Arts degree in speech communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He received a doctorate in communication studies with an emphasis on rhetorical studies from the University of Iowa.
Before becoming WPU’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Sandmann taught a communication technology and culture course as a communication professor, this is where he first got the idea for his Provost’s blog.
Since he was teaching students how to use different types of communication technology, he wanted to use them as well.
“I also noted that some other people in the profession and in my area of administration were using these tools and some published more nationally, mine is more local,” said Sandmann.
The provost wanted to find a way to communicate more information to the WPU community and thought a blog, which also allows for a more informal tone, was a good fit.
He confesses he has only received a few responses to his blog but has gotten a couple comments on certain blog posts.
“One of the things that I have started doing is, once something is posted, I’ll tweet about it too and while I don’t have a thousand followers, there are some people that use social media at the University, who will then retweet it so people are hearing about it,” said Sandmann.
Although he notes that not many read his blog, those who do seem to enjoy his featured topics.
“The blog is a cool insight into how the school runs. I loved the post about making decisions for school closings or delays,” said Junior and Anthropology major, Priscilla Cordero. “The way it was written really spoke about how everyone involved on campus, from students to faculty and staff, is affected so it made me look at our community from a different, wider view.”
The provost edits, writes and manages the blog all on his own. He focuses on writing about issues that are facing higher education, particularly ones that affect the university. He reads about many of these issues on online journals like, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education.
The Provost’s blog, which is open to anyone at the university, is linked directly on the Office of the Provost page on the WPU website or can be found at this URL: http://blog.wpunj.edu/provost/.