Vice President of academic affairs joins campus

Ross Alexander began his new job as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost July 1. Alexander’s top priorities at UNA are experiential education, study abroad, internationalization and online education.

As UNA moves into DI, a new hire on campus brings ideas of expansion and innovation.

The university hired Ross Alexander to work at UNA as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost July 1.

“It has been vigorous and challenging but also very rewarding,” Alexander said. “I work with some great people.”

Alexander said his job as Provost includes working with the deans of colleges to ensure UNA has quality academic programs. He is over the entire academic program, including the office of admission, the registrar’s office, financial aid and enrollment management.

He said he was originally attracted to UNA for the quality of academics, location of the university and for University President Kenneth Kitts’ vision for the campus. He said the time he has currently spent on campus has only reinforced his decision to come to UNA.

Alexander said he looks forward to growing the academic programs as the university grows during the transition to DI.

“Division I athletics means Division I academics,” Alexander said. “I would argue that we have DI academics and athletics is just now catching up.”

Alexander said his initial focuses at UNA are experiential education, study abroad, internationalization and online education.

He said he wants to add more online programs to compliment UNA’s existing online classes. He will market these online programs toward non-traditional students, such as adult learners looking to advance their careers.

Junior Dustin Day said he supports adding more online programs.

“I think online programs are very beneficial because you can work from home and adjust things to your schedule,” Day said.

His strategy is to look at successful online programs at UNA and replicate their style and marketing.

“We will be looking at how to set ourselves up for success,” Alexander said. “That’s a conversation we probably haven’t been having enough.”

He said he plans on partnering with athletic director Mark Linder to use athletics as a way of marketing the expansion of online programs.

He said he hopes online classes will benefit traditional students who need flexibility in their schedule, but he still values the traditional college atmosphere.

“We want the majority of our traditional students having the majority of their classes in the traditional manner with an infusion of technology, such as hybrid classes, with some online options,” Alexander said.

He said he is also interested in working with faculty to encourage study abroad trips to benefit students. He said it is important students have the experiences necessary to compete in a global market. He is a “major proponent” of international education.

He said he also wants to encourage domestic trips within the U.S. to offer hands-on learning opportunities.

He said he wants to pursue accreditation of other programs and market unique programs. He said accreditation speaks to the quality of the program and the discipline of the faculty.

Alexander said his job is to look at marketing successful programs to make the university stand out against competitors.

“I need to do a better job and we need to do a better job of letting students and parents know about the quality of our programs. That will go a long way in moving the academic program as a whole forward.”

Alexander said he has an open-door policy for students to talk about academic problems or suggestions because he remembers what his college experience was like.

“I went through the typical maturation project that most college students go through,” Alexander said. “Eventually I pulled myself together and started doing well academically, but it took me a minute to get there.”

He said he and Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields plan to have monthly lunches with students to discuss issues they see on campus.

Alexander said he wants to interact with students as much as he can, and most students will often see him in areas outside of his office.

In addition to his job as Provost, Alexander will use his Ph.D. to teach political science classes.