Dr. Kimberly Acquaviva, one of four finalists for the position of Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, gave an enlightening presentation that introduced herself to the University of Maine’s faculty and search committee on Sept. 29.
She displayed a slideshow to the audience at the Memorial Union, which answered two specific questions posed to her by the committee. Acquaviva is the Betty Norman Norris Endowed Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and is known nationally as an innovator and authority figure for the LGBTQ+ community. She is also a leader in interprofessional aging research and policy.
After obtaining tenure at George Washington University, Acquaviva seeks the opportunity to strengthen our school’s system and recruitment processes by providing staff and faculty with recognition and potential advancement. The first guiding question posed by the committee asked her how her efforts related to academic quality could support work related to faculty development. She expressed the value of meeting with each faculty member annually for one to two hours to discuss certain areas that they would like to strengthen and provide individual coaching. This includes writing/editing support, time management planning and goal setting.
Acquaviva has led more than 40 faculty searches, 75% of which were for tenure track positions. She has developed policies, procedures, research and templates to help guide the processes of recruitment, orientation, retention and development. Her related past positions at the University of Virginia include working as the associate dean and director of faculty affairs, the accreditation site visitor, a member of the school of nursing’s eight-person strategy working group as well as admissions committee and lastly as a representative for the university-wide competency assessment committee.
Acquaviva developed resources for department chairs to use in tracking faculty progress and created an award template for promotion and tenure dossiers. She also provided a school-wide revision of policies, procedures and criteria. She understands the fear that faculty have when they are trying to go for tenure and are unsure if they meet certain criteria, which is why she is diligent in providing clear and detailed feedback.
The second question answered in the presentation asked Acquaviva how she envisions working with other members of academic leadership in the realization of her responsibilities in such areas.
“In order for the University of Maine to deliver high-quality academic programs consistently, its faculty members need opportunities and resources in order to develop and thrive as scholars, educators, and learners,” Acquaviva said.
These members require leaders who seek out their opinions and listen to what they have to say. Her first order of business will be implementing a Needs Assessment survey for all faculty, staff and deans of both the Orono and Machias campuses. This survey will ask a multitude of questions that look at what working at UMaine is really like. Acquaviva promises transparency in the reporting of survey results as well as an action plan to improve working conditions and overall motivation.
Within the first three months she will have listening sessions and weekly office hours (both in-person and virtual) available to anyone interested in speaking with her. During the question and answer portion an audience member asked her how she envisions re-sparking burned-out passion within the staff and faculty members. Acquaviva suggested providing them with time and space to recover as well as discussing a plan to help put the fun back into teaching. One possible solution may be to allow them, as well as other members, a semester off to recuperate. Another question was asked regarding her philosophy on diversity.
“It is not an add-on, but a must. It is not about simply recruiting minority or marginalized members, but they must also be retained, recognized and promoted. Every single faculty member is equally valuable, and despite different allocations of time, each is deserving of equal opportunities,” Acquaviva replied.
Acquaviva believes equity and inclusion to be basic expectations of any institution. She expressed excitement in potentially joining UMaine’s exceptionally skilled staff and thanked the search committee for allowing her the opportunity to speak.