Provost candidate Abby Parrill-Baker discusses changes in higher education at an open forum


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Abby Parrill-Baker discussed nontraditional students, shared governance and technology changes at a Feb. 28 open forum held in search of Central Michigan University's next executive vice president and provost.

"(My presentation) is driven by a number of transformations in the higher education landscape that have started and I certainly expect are going to continue," Parrill-Baker said.

One topic Parrill-Baker touched on during her forum is the changes to technology in recent years. She talked about the "gamification" of courses - schoolwork being made more like a game to appeal to a younger generation of college students.

Parrill-Baker also discussed the need for flexibility in college students. She said flexibility, whether it be with course participation or ways of attending class, will be one of the most important expectations new college students bring to universities.

"I think today's students are going to expect flexibility in all sorts of aspects," she said. 

She also talked about the rise of nontraditional students - then discussed ways to increase that population's enrollment by possibly creating either totally online or asynchronous course options for students. This would benefit the students working full-time, outside of Mount Pleasant or those who can only do work outside of normal business hours. 

"I think there's going to have to be a considerable exploration of nontraditional students that we might serve and serve well," she said. 

When asked about shared governance, Parrill-Baker said it allows for plans to be fully realized before it is implemented. Shared governance takes advantage of everyone's expertise, opinions and advise. 

"If you aren't using a shared governance model, you're cheating yourself of all those contributions," she said.

Parrill-Baker background

Parrill-Baker currently serves as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis. Before this role, Parrill-Baker was the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis. She was also the Lumsden-Valrance Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University.

Parrill-Baker is a 1992 CMU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She then earned her master’s and doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1996.

Upcoming open forums

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Amy Thompson

1 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Bovee UC Auditorium

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Parwinder Grewal

3 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.

Bovee UC Auditorium

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Nancy Mathews

1 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Bovee UC Auditorium

All forums have an in-person and virtual attendance option. The live streams can be accessed on the Office of the President website