Effective July 1, Union University Provost Ben Mitchell will return to a full-time faculty role as the Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy. Mitchell, who had been serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs for three years, announced his decision to the Union faculty during a meeting May 1.
“I want to thank Dr. Oliver publicly for the great honor of serving with him and the Executive Council. I want to assure you that there are no problems or disagreements that led to my decision. Dub and I have been in conversation about this for some time,” he said in a statement.
Mitchell said he had always anticipated stepping out of the position after helping University President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver transition, and that his departure opened up the job to someone who felt called to it long term.
He also said that his time serving as provost only increased his confidence and excitement for Union’s future under Oliver’s leadership.
“I am even more of a fan of Dub Oliver and his administration than when I stepped in this position,” he said. “I’m excited about the direction we’re headed and want to be part of helping us move in that direction. It’s time for me to do that from the inside-out.”
Ann Singleton, associate provost and dean for instruction, will step in as interim provost in July. She said that while she was sad to see Mitchell leave the office, she was excited for the focused time he would now be able to dedicate to his students. She also said she was looking forward to continuing to support and advocate for Union’s faculty as interim provost.
Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science, made a similar transition from administration back to faculty in 2015 after serving as associate provost. While there are benefits to each type of job, he said most faculty members don’t dream of landing in administrative roles one day; they are passionate about students and the subjects they teach.
“Our first love, professionally speaking, is our subject area and the teaching and scholarship that goes with it,” he said. “For most of us, administration is a sacrifice and a service that one performs for one’s colleagues and the university community.”
Oliver said the administration would begin searching for the best candidate for provost immediately, and that he was thankful for Mitchell’s leadership the last three years.
“Ben Mitchell is a dedicated and faithful servant who has advanced Union’s mission significantly over the past three years. His intellectual gifts combined with his gracious and generous spirit are a model for us all,” Oliver said in an email. “His thoughtful leadership has been a tremendous blessing to me personally, and I will ever be grateful to God that Ben has served in this critical role during these important years.”