Montana State University’s Senior Administrative Officer Leaving

Montana State University

After five years being the senior administrative officer at Montana State University, Martha Potvin is leaving and she is heading back to her New England roots.

Potvin will go to the 4,800-student private Massachusetts college – Springfield College, where Potvin will serve as provost. Potvin said she will be just an hour drive from the village in the dairy country of Connecticut where she grew up.

Potvin said she wanted to transfer to the place for a reason that she wanted to to help students in the area.

As the 63 year old Potvin sits in her office on the second floor of Montana Hall, she talked about her five years as the first woman to hold the job of Montana State University provost and as the vice president for academic affairs.

Potvin said that it’s an honor working being the first woman president of MSU and it’s still unusual for women to carry on the university’s top two jobs.

A celebration was made on June 16, 2016 for Potvin from 3 to 5 p.m. on MSU’s Centennial Mall, and in case of rain, tents were already set up.

Potvin’s term of office has not been without controversy, but, she can emphasize with pride her long list of accomplishments she made working with MSU’s professors, deans and administrators.

Potvin was originally a plant ecologist, and as a woman in science, Potvin is proud to have had a big impact on hiring more female professors.

Potvin was one of Montana State University’s principal investigators at $3.4 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE Grant, which was used to on board more women into the faculty. From 10 percent, it went up to 27.9 percent of MSU’s number of tenure-track women in social sciences, engineering, science and math.

Potvin was in charge of managing MSU’s teaching programs during the rapid student enrollment growth – that went up 16 percent in five years. The instructional budget of MSU was boosted from $21 million to $90.9 million. As a result, more university freshmen are staying in school and the six-year graduation had an upward movement rate to 52.4 percent.

Potvin was responsible of MSU’s perennially low faculty salaries that improved from 76 to 80 percent of the national averages.

Potvin had a feeling of deep satisfaction of starting the Provost Lecture Series – developing a Center for Faculty Excellence and allowing more professors to take a period of paid leave.

As Potvin also hired all but one of MSU’s 11 college deans, Montana State University has created a number of new programs like hospitality management to materials science, Asian studies and doctorates in nursing practice and in psychology.

Potvin’s accomplishments include her support in new technology – installing high-tech Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classrooms.

And in keeping up with MSU’s student population, Potvin said MSU has created more than 50 new faculty jobs – in which she approved a dozen last week.

Psychology professor Michael Babcock, praised Potvin for her excellent leadership, for making the existing programs stronger and bringing in new and innovative programs.

Bob Mokwa, who will be MSU’s interim provost next Tuesday, is also holding the same opinion that Potvin has left MSU in good shape.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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