Academic Affairs Pulls Ahead

Hurricane Katrina inevitably put a hiatus on much of what went on at Dillard University, however, the academic provost vowed that the office will maintain their academic respectability.


Dr. Bettye Parker-Smith, vice president and academic provost, said although she has lost her number two person, Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard, and several other top academic officers, she plans to keep the Office of Academic Affairs viable.


“We have always had a good reputation with our accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and in order to do that, you have to be data driven, Parker-Smith said. “So I hired an associate provost, Elfred Pinkard, his role was to make sure that we stayed on target in terms of data which drives the curriculum, and which drives the hiring and maintenance of faculty and retention of students.”


She added that she will protect the curriculum with the goal of making students strong as they go out into the world. “In whatever ways I can do that, that is what I’m going to do,” Parker-Smith said. She added that she plans to continue her good of preparing students to be globally savvy, mathematically well prepared, and competent in terms of language and literacy.


“As long as I’m here, we are going to maintain the academic integrity of this office,” Parker-Smith said.


In addition to the departure of Pinkard, who was assistant vice president and assistant provost, Dr. Sylvia Carey no longer has a presence on the campus. The former dean of the honors program and assistant provost, is working out of Atlanta, Ga., serving as a consultant and maintaining the honors program until the end of this session. Parker-Smith is in the process of looking for a replacement.


Parker-Smith said replacing everyone in the office is not going to happen right now because of Dillard’s budget. “The university is in no position financially for me to maintain the office at the level that I had it before.” She added that she is preparing a long-range plan to keep the number of faculty consistent with student enrollment.


To address the staffing shortage, Dr. Marshall Stevenson, dean of Social Sciences, is assisting Parker-Smith with several academic responsibilities the remainder of this session, the provost said.


Dr. Sylvia Ballard-Huete, who recently retired from a more than 40-year career at Dillard, returned to assist the provost. Parker-Smith said, “The question is, am I going to replace them?”


She added that is not possible for her to re-establish the office for next fall as it was pre-Katrina. Because of the university’s low enrollment and decreased faculty, the absence of more than 2,000 members of the student body and 144 member faculty, Parker-Smith will have to determine how to best manage the office.


Parker-Smith is going to create a three-year plan committed to the redesigning of the office of academic affairs. The office is also planning to review student performance, how they are doing academically during these sessions away from the Gentilly campus during two consecutive thirteen-week sessions. “I think we have given it our best shot.”