November 16, 2021
In two and a half months as your president, I have had the pleasure of announcing some truly exciting news — from the $10 million for the Restoration and Reinvestment Action Plan, to $400K in donations by individual Board members, and most recently the elevation of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and CIIS’ first Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).
I’m excited to say the wave of exciting news continues.
Today, I have the great honor of announcing that Kathy Littles, PhD is returning to CIIS to assume the position of provost.
One of the most important positions at any university is the provost. At one time, the provost was considered to be solely the chief academic officer. With higher education undergoing meaningful transformation, today’s provost has evolved to be more of a chief operations officer, assuming duties that go well beyond academic stewardship to include areas such as enrollment and admissions, student relations and student services, compliance, finance, fundraising, marketing, even information technology.
For me, the provost is also a trusted partner to the president. For all these reasons, I have taken great care in making this appointment. I’d like to share with you how I came to this decision.
First, I listened to you—our community. There could be no better reference for the qualities that are most essential for CIIS’ next provost than from those who work and learn here.
I heard through numerous discussions there was a desire for a provost who is creative and collaborative, has a focus on whole-person education and demonstrated leadership experience in higher education, and is a force of nature when it comes to supporting faculty. The quality that resounded most powerfully, however, was someone who understands CIIS — its history, uniqueness, strengths, and values, particularly its commitment to supporting community, diversity and inclusion, social justice, and integral governance. Many of you directly recommended Kathy Littles for this position, describing her as the embodiment of these qualities. Having met Kathy, even before I formally started my position as president, I can understand why.
Welcoming Kathy Littles Home to CIIS
Kathy first came to CIIS in 2006 as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Undergraduate Studies (SUS). Four years later she assumed the position of Director of the Transformative Inquiry Department, and four years after that she became Director of Online Learning. In 2017, Kathy was elevated to Dean of the School of Consciousness and Transformation (SCT).
A desire to broaden her skills and make an even greater impact with faculty and diversity led her to Saint Mary’s College in 2019, where she took on the role of Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer. Before agreeing to leave these roles to come back to CIIS, Kathy had been promoted to Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Since I first had the privilege of meeting Kathy, we have had many discussions about everything from higher education, generally, to CIIS specifically. I knew immediately that Kathy would be essential in helping me learn about this vibrant community. Over the past months, I have come to see in Kathy a person who cares deeply about CIIS, has a passion for integral education, a love of mission-driven and equity-driven academic institutions, and an abiding commitment to supporting and uplifting faculty.
Accepting this position, Kathy said, was for her a dream come true, one which provided a profound sense of “coming home.”
A New Path Forward and Fulfilling Promises
I’ve said in previous messages that CIIS is rededicating itself to its Seven Commitments. We are also renewing our charge to make academics the cornerstone of CIIS. Kathy will be integral in this effort.
As provost, Kathy will be responsible for executing much of the Restoration and Reinvestment Action Plan, particularly as it pertains to faculty. One of the driving reasons Kathy accepted this position was because of her ardent respect for CIIS faculty. Their commitment to rigorous scholarship and transformative education; concern for student learning and development; and values-based service and advocacy is, as she described it, “an inspiration.”
Kathy’s experience and expertise in Faculty Affairs and Development will be vital to the success of our strategic plan. Only when we have a strong and robust faculty can we deliver on our promises, both to our students and to ourselves through the Seven Commitments. In the coming months, Kathy will be working closely with current faculty on how to fortify their resources and develop best practices and procedures for recruiting, retaining, sustaining, and mentoring faculty. Kathy will also be working to develop faculty recognition and professional development opportunities, as well as new resources in and out of the classroom. Creating space for faculty to feel inspired and acknowledged is the first step towards ensuring that they can do their best work.
Personally, I especially look forward to working with Kathy to shape the future of internal and innovative governance and hiring a new cohort of faculty and staff for our academic departments. We’ll have much more to say on this soon at the next Candid Conversation.
I would also like to thank Dr. Liz Beaven, who has served as provost since August 2017. Liz’s steady voice, quiet confidence, fierce loyalty, and grace have made CIIS a better place. Since my arrival in September, I have relied on her to be a trusted advisor — so much so, that she has agreed to stay on part time with CIIS as Advisor to the President.
What a time to be at CIIS!
While the challenges of the pandemic, socioeconomic disruption, racial reckoning, and heightened climate concerns over the past two years have caused much distress to many in our community, they have also inspired an awakening of conscience and consciousness. When I assumed the presidency, I knew it would be incumbent upon CIIS to return to its roots, buttress its strengths, and boldly embark on a direction that honors the past, transforms the present, and co-creates a powerful vision for the future. I am confident that with Kathy Littles as our provost, we will do just this.
Please join me in welcoming Kathy back to CIIS on Thursday, November 18 at 3pm. Together, we’ll host another Candid Conversation about the exciting path ahead. This event will be held in-person in CIIS’ Lobby on Mission Street, as well as over Zoom.
Kathy Littles, PhD