Provost candidate Dr. Parwinder Grewal discusses issues to prioritize at fourth open forum

Provost Finalist Dr. Parwinder Grewal speaks at an open forum.

Provost candidate Dr. Parwinder Grewal gave a speech on March 2 at the fourth of five open forums for the finalists.

During the discussion, Grewal shared his vision for the higher education landscape and the issues he wants to prioritize in order to move the university forward such as high dropout rates, enrollment declines and demographic shifts. 

One of Grewal’s biggest priorities for Central Michigan University is to become more competitive and attractive to students in order to increase enrollment. He said the university can do this by understanding dynamic learning styles of students, building equity and inclusion processes, expanding online education and improving marketing for recruitment.

“Students are becoming wiser," he said. "They know what they want so they will choose and select based on the information we provide."

Grewal also wants to increase equity and inclusion at the university by creating more opportunities for scholarships. 

“Without a scholarship, I couldn’t have gotten my degree," he said. "I'm passionate about fundraising for that particular reason.”

Another issue he addressed in the presentation are the effects of COVID-19 on both health and education. He expressed the negative impact of pandemic learning to not only college students, but K-12 students too.

“This is an under-appreciated effect from the university perspective because right now we think it’s far away from us,” he said. “But these are our future students, this is our pipeline.” 

Dr. Grewal said that CMU will have to fill the gaps in learning caused by the pandemic. 

He also emphasized a changing dynamic as more “iGen” students, or digital natives, are pursuing higher education.

“They require a special touch in terms of their development and success in college,” Dr. Grewal said.

He believes CMU should adhere to these changing dynamics by expanding methods of hybrid learning. Dr. Grewal said he is a strategic thinker, a risk taker and a builder by nature. 

“I build programs, I build relationships, I build departments.”

Audience Questions:

One audience member asked about Dr. Grewal's experience collaborating with faculty and students for his initiatives at previous institutions.

Dr. Grewal described his experience as the founding dean of the college of sciences, where he met with each faculty member to gauge their concerns and passions for the university to implement their ideas at a university level. 

“I truly believe in collaborative innovation, getting people together in a small room or a big open forum,” he said. “Discuss the problem and ideas start to flow. No single idea might be the end idea, new ideas emerge from that interaction and that is what I focus on.”

One online audience member wanted Dr. Grewal to share his previous experiences and future plans to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

He said he wants to enhance diversity in students and faculty, ensure committees have bias recognition training and look at the issue of equity when considering applications. 

An audience member asked Dr. Grewal how he will demonstrate a commitment to long-term, sustainable relationships with the campus and Mount Pleasant communities.

“My opportunity for this kind of job is to make a longer term commitment so that I can contribute and see the results of this (community).”

Lastly, he answered a question about how he views the role of non-tenured faculty at CMU. Dr. Grewal suggested three-year appointments would benefit instructors without the long-term commitment.

“Those people must be valued," he said. "If they are gone, you will have to recruit people by paying higher salaries and then they are going to have to adapt to this new environment. We need to try first empowering every department to repackage their program before we throw it away, to be able to try to get enrollment up.”

Dr. Grewal experience

Dr. Grewal has worked for the last three and a half years as the Executive Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies and New Program Development at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where he is also Special Assistant to the President. He simultaneously served as the Dean of Graduate College and the Founding Dean of the College of Sciences at the same institution.

He also once served as the Head of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department at the University of Tennessee. 

Additionally, Dr. Grewal has 16 years of experience as a faculty member at Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of London and completed his postdoctoral training at Rutgers University.

Dr. Grewal said with his current experience, the next obvious role for him is that of provost.

Upcoming open forums

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Nancy Mathews

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

Bovee UC Auditorium