Jonathan Jenkins, Staff Writer
The goal of a university is to not only provide a quality education for its students, but to give them an experience that will help them grow and develop in every part of their lives. That experience, however, does not come without programs and planning. Dr. Helen Tate, Wingate University’s new provost, is bringing a new outlook on what that college experience means and how it should affect the lives of students.
Dr. Tate’s journey to the position of provost started with her own college experience. After getting her bachelor’s in speech communication, she went on to teach and get her Ph.D. in speech communication at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She gained experience in building up university programs first as an assistant professor and then as a department chair for a total of three years at Columbia College in South Carolina.
Her experience in building and guiding programs on a university level eventually led to her appointment as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia Southwestern State University. Her success over Academic Affairs, finally, led to her appointment to the newly created position of Provost for Wingate University.
While the university president is the face of the university, the provost, regardless of her important role, is often unseen by students. The provost, however, has the ability to change and improve a student’s overall college experience.
“My number one responsibility is to student learning.” Dr. Tate stated. “It is about making sure that we provide the best learning experience possible.” Her responsibilities also extend beyond what students will encounter. “The second part of my responsibility is for the long term sustainability of the institution [Wingate University],” She said. “To make sure that we are being financially responsible, … and that we are being responsible with our reputation, so that we are putting out products that are quality.”
In addition to her responsibilities to the business and student sides of the university, Dr. Tate is in charge of the various academic programs that are a part of Wingate. Before she arrived, most of the academic programs were answering to themselves and not communicating with each other. The creation of the provost position is meant to connect and streamline all of the academic studies under one leader.
“Bringing the Provost into the organizational structure changes that structure,” Dr. Tate stated. Those changes may take time, but they will make a difference in Wingate’s academic growth moving forward.
While it is encouraging to hear about constant growth and improvements within the university, it can be hard for students to see some of those changes. To enhance each student’s on-campus experience, Dr. Tate is committed to expanding the various programs that Wingate has for them.
These programs include Winternational, Gateway, Global Perspectives, and, the most recent addition, WUEngage. “These are called ‘high impact’ programs,” she stated, “and are pieces of a very exciting student experience.”
A major focus for the upcoming year, however, is the expansion and promotion of WUEngage, the community service program for students. “[WUEngage] is a way to learn by doing.” Dr. Tate said. “You need to know and be able to articulate what you’ve learned in college so that you can get a job and demonstrate what you have learned to different people. Employers want people who can think through problems. When an employer says to you ‘Tell me about a problem you have worked on or solved?’, WUEngage is a golden answer for that question.”
The key to Dr. Tate’s improvement of the student experience comes in helping students articulate that experience as a valued asset after college. “You should be able to identify very specific things that you participated in that prepared you for the working world.” she stated. This is the end result of a good student experience and is something that, with time, every single Wingate student can claim with confidence.
Edited by: Sara Gunter