On July 1, 2011, at the start of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s new fiscal year, Christopher Capuano was named the new University Provost. The position puts him directly under University President Michael Adams in the school’s hierarchy and the increase in responsibility has come as no surprise to the man assuming the role.
“It’s been a challenging year for me, and I knew it would be,” said Capuano.
Capuano, who had been serving as FDU’s Vice Provost of International Affairs, was named University Provost after a national search conducted by the school. A university-wide search committee composed of administrators and faculty was appointed to review the potential candidates, both internal and external.
The review process consisted of phone interviews, followed by campus “call-ins” for applicants who made it past the first screening. The top three candidates were then selected from this pool with the university president eventually making the final appointment. At the end of the entire process, Capuano was the last man standing.
The promotion did not relieve him of one of the primary responsibilities of his old job, which was overseeing the development of FDU-Vancouver. While serving in his new role, Capuano continued his oversight of the Vancouver campus, which has moved past its “break-even deficit” (the amount of money that has been invested on the part of the school) and is close to making $1 million, he said.
While the fast turn-around at FDU-Vancouver was a pleasant surprise to Capuano from numerous standpoints, it rendered him incapable of turning over the reins to someone else once he received his promotion.
“Managing the growth sometimes is more difficult than handling the start up,” said Capuano.
The new University Provost has been up to the challenge, though.
“I want to see the university continue to build on its reputation of providing a global education,” said Capuano.
This sense of commitment to and understanding of FDU’s mission leads one to believe that Capuano is the right man for the job, and he reflects his beliefs in how much responsibility he has shouldered in terms of managing the overall growth of Fairleigh Dickinson.
“We need to remember that that’s who we are. We need to remember that [being the leader in global education] was a founding principle in the university,” said Capuano.
Besides his management of growing FDU’s brand, Capuano has also tended to the task of strengthening it from within in his short time as University Provost.
“I’ve put a lot of time into reorganizing academic affairs,” in an effort to make things more efficient, said Capuano.
During this reorganization, Capuano restructured the system so he would have significantly fewer people reporting directly to him, which in turn allowed him to identify and pursue his goals in a much more efficient manner. By streamlining, Capuano has structured a better vehicle through which his message can be heard more clearly.
His message is simple: “Continue to enforce quality programs and programs that are connected with careers,” while promoting “uniform standards for quality across the university.”
Part of that search for quality rests in retaining the highest accreditation standards for Fairleigh Dickinson’s academic departments. Just recently, FDU’s Silberman College of Business was renewed for its AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation, which according to the university website is the “world’s preeminent accreditation authority for collegiate schools of business.”
Maintaining such accreditation standards allows for graduates of the school to “connect to employers,” according to Capuano, by proving their worth across a universal set of standards.
While FDU’s ultimate direction under Capuano’s watch has yet to be seen, his first year as University Provost has been guided by foundational principles of the school both from a business and philosophical perspective.