Provost/vice president for academic affairs candidate forums continue

David Callejo Pérez highlights importance of communication with students and faculty

David Callejo Pérez discussed the importance of finding new and creative ways of communicating with students and faculty during two open forums April 3. 

Callejo Pérez, who is one of four candidates in the running for the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs, earned a Ph.D. in education from Florida International University. 

He currently serves as the associate provost for academic affairs and interim dean of education at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.

During the student open forum, Callejo Pérez discussed the best ways to convey information with the student body. “I don’t send an email unless it’s life or death.”

He said in his current role, there is a dedicated website for students to contact professors and administrators to receive a swift response. In addition, a texting service is available for students to ask questions and an automated system guides them to the person or department they need to contact. 

He added the best way to spread information to students is through campus clubs and organizations. 

During the open forum for faculty and staff, Callejo Pérez said he wants to “reimagine the experience of education” for traditionally underrepresented groups and “really open up access for everyone.” 

He said this can be done by providing both students and faculty with opportunities for academic growth. 

Callejo Pérez said he wants to increase support for programs that fit the mission of the University as a “diverse” teaching institution. 

He added one of the most important goals as provost would be to prioritize the work/life balance for professors. “We are in the people business and you all are people.” 

Callejo Pérez said academic affairs is responsible for “driving the culture” of student success and preparedness. 

During the faculty Q&A, history professor Richard Allen asked about Callejo Pérez’s academic and institutional “vision” for the University. Allen also expressed concern regarding a “shift in focus from the liberal arts education we are said to be giving to the sciences.” 

Callejo Pérez said faculty should remain “dedicated” to providing a liberal arts education as “that is at the core of what you do here, even if the focus sometimes shifts.” 

“If you call yourself a liberal arts institution,” he said, there needs to be a “better connection from [students’] general education to their professional education in their respective fields.

“The core values of liberal arts education don’t have to be thought of differently,” he said, but instead the University must find different ways to convey to students and parents how the liberal arts education translates to the job field.

Virginia Rutter, sociology professor and member of the Massachusetts State College Association bargaining team, asked Callejo Pérez how he plans to “mitigate” the damage done to the relationship between the faculty union and the administration after “three years without a raise for faculty and librarians and two years without a funded contract.”

Callejo Pérez said decisions made at the University need to be an “integrative” process. “Everyone needs to be a part of that.” 

He said in his role he would “engage all the constituents” in an honest discussion regarding the issues at hand. 

He said in his current role, during contract negotiations, the faculty and administration discussed reducing costs of graduate-level programming following decreased enrollment. “You always include the people your decision impacts along in the process. The last thing we want to do is make a promise to an external partner and not be able to deliver.” 

Callejo Pérez added, “It’s about an open, honest engagement. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to come to an understanding that we are involved in something together.”

Mark Kiselica speaks of his ‘deeply personal’ passion for higher education

Mark Kiselica, the third candidate for provost and vice president for academic affairs, answered questions from the FSU community at two open forums April 8. 

Kiselica has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in psychology from Bucknell University. 

Kiselica is currently the vice provost for academic affairs and a psychology professor at Cabrini University in Pennsylvania. 

During an open forum with faculty, Kiselica discussed how he was “privileged” to receive a college education after growing up in poverty with parents who did not receive “traditional formal education.” 

He said he is passionate about making higher education accessible to “nontraditional” students who may lack the funds or access that make education possible.

Kiselica said his “eyes were opened” to racial inequality while completing a pre-doctoral internship in clinical child and adolescent psychology at The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1986.

He previously had “no experience” working with people of color and said this inspired him to focus on “confronting racism” and “crossing cultural boundaries” in his academic work. 

Virginia Rutter, professor of sociology and member of the Massachusetts State College Association bargaining team, asked Kiselica how he would “mitigate the damage” that has been done and repair the relationship between faculty and administrators after a “contentious” three years of negotiating a faculty contract.

Kiselica said he “aches” for the faculty and staff who have gone without raises for “so long.” He added, “Where would American workers be without the contribution of unions?” 

He said that unions have historically made working conditions “safer and better” for all workers. 

Kiselica added supporting faculty contract negotiations isn’t the only way he will support faculty. “My job is not about me. My job is about students and you. My job is to create as many opportunities to shine a spotlight on all the good work you do.” 

He said, “When we come to budget decisions at an institutional level – even though you haven’t had a raise – there are certain things I can try to protect that do something to help people feel fulfilled in their work. For example – support for money for conferences.” 

Lina Rincón, professor of sociology, asked Kiselica how he would support “structural change” at the University following the hate crimes over the last two years. She said, “For us to really enact this diverse mission, we need someone like yourself to be willing to support that vision.” 

Kiselica said there is a “systemic emphasis” in the FSU strategic plans to “promote inclusivity and student success.” He said there has to be a continuous message sent to students that the University “celebrates diversity.” 

He said there must be a “recognition” of cultural backgrounds in the curricula and lecture series on campus. 

Kiselica added, “When students consider coming here, they sense the warmth, the welcoming, and the genuineness to appreciate who they are.” 

He said, “We must work collectively to diversify our faculty at our institution.” 

During the student forum, Adam Scanlon, senior and SGA parliamentarian, said students are concerned with the lack of opportunities for commuters on campus and asked Kiselica how he would improve the “commuter experience.” 

Kiselica said one way to alleviate the “loneliness” commuters feel from being unable to participate in events is by creating a class schedule that has specific times where no classes or student governance committees are held. 

He said his former employer, the University of New Jersey, used this model to give commuters times to “participate in campus culture.” 

Kiselica said, “There shouldn’t be anything preventing students from participating.”