UNO Meets the Third of Four Candidates for Provost -- Ronald T. Brown

The third of four finalist candidates aiming to be the University of New Orleans’ next provost and vice president of academic affairs greeted the UNO community today, spending the day on campus in a blitz of interviews and meetings, taking time to meet for a lunchtime open forum interview with faculty and staff.

“Urban universities can really make a difference, not just changing lives and changing students and making sure that students enter the workforce able to command high salaries,” said Ron Brown. “But also changing the community.

Trained as a psychologist, Brown has been an academic administrator for well over a decade and since 2010 has served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Wayne University. He began his open forum interview by thanking the UNO community for their Southern hospitality and welcome basket, then telling a few stories.

Raised during the 1960s and 1970s in northern New Jersey, Brown recalled crossing picket lines during riots.

“Really ever since that moment when I was about 10 or 11, I think that really struck an impression on me: why that was going on and what was going on. My father explained that not everyone had access to the same things that other people had access to,” Brown said.  “The word ‘access’ became very critical, very imprinted in my mind.”

He saluted faculty and staff for “making a difference in the lives of people,” their resilience and availability.

“I would say that you’re at the point now where you need to celebrate resiliency and you need to celebrate that transformative moment looking forward for the University of New Orleans,” said Brown. “You need a prescriptive plan for what needs to happen and for what I think the first area is you’re going to need resources, no doubt about it. Resources can be garnered in several ways. And it really needs to happen quickly. You need to tell your story: What a wonderful place, what lives this place has changed. You’re a jewel in New Orleans and that needs to be capitalized on.”

Brown spoke of a need to have students more involved in community service learning, using the research park as a source of revenue by increasing patents and the research portfolio of the university.

Brown has spent a lot of time advancing international student programs in Southeast Asia, Brazil, South Africa and the Middle East. He called for transparency during budgeting processes and spoke of three areas where he would like to focus: strategic enrollment, philanthropy, partnerships with other universities and other businesses.

“This is not a university to help remediate students who aren’t ready for college,” he said. “You need to make partnerships with local community colleges to have seamless transition to university in second year if they do well.”

Last, Brown spoke of his own experiences at Wayne developing an operation retention group and implementing strategies including a great student and learning center and programs that helped the university’s retention rate go up nearly 80 percent within the first year.

He also fielded questions about research and faculty tenure.

For more information about Brown and the other candidates, visit a special website set up regarding the search for a new provost and vice president for academic affairs.