Benedictine University has officially hired a new provost. James E. Payne, Ph.D, has landed the job as the next chief academic officer and will take over for Maria J. de la Camara, who has been serving as the interim provost for the past three years. Camara, also the Vice President for Academic Affairs, announced her retirement last year.
Payne is currently serving as the dean of the J. Whitney Bunting College of Business at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, and has over 28 years of experience in college level education. Part of that higher education includes a previous job as a provost at the University of New Orleans. With all of this experience and knowledge to offer the campus, Benedictine University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A., could not be more thrilled for Payne to start.
“The reason why he is a great addition at this point in time is that he’s been a provost before so he has that experience. Number Two-His strength academically, is in the business area, and with the addition of Goodwin Hall, the university would like the business programs to have a higher profile regionally and nationally. So, having a provost who is strong in the business area really helps us a lot,” stated University President Brophy.
Aside from his impressive administrative experience, Payne has also continued to be a scholar. He actively serves on several editorial boards, as well as a journal editor. He was names a 2000 Fulbright research scholar and 2007 Fulbright senior specialist to the Institute of Economics in Zagreb, Croatia. His background in education started at Berea College in Kentucky where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Following graduation, he went on to grad school and earned a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University.
Payne has lived in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and most recently Georgia. Now, he will relocate once again, to Illinois this time. This will be the first time in a while that he will have a true winter, and on top of that a Chicago winter. That being said, this new position has to mean a lot to him and he did speak a little bit about his decision to take this all on.
“First, my value system aligns with the mission and values of Benedictine University. Second, the dedicated faculty and staff clearly understand the student-centered focus of a Benedictine education. Third, on a more personal note, the location enables me to be closer to family. Fourth, I actually miss the seasons, though I am sure some will remind me of the warmer weather I left behind when winter approaches,” Payne explained.
When asked what excited him most about this opportunity, he had a lot to say.
“My excitement about Benedictine rests the university’s student-centered focus that embraces a value system that aligns with my own values. As such, Benedictine not only provides a transformative educational experience that prepares students for success in their chosen career, but to also make a difference in the lives of others. During the course of my interviews for the Provost position, I sensed the Benedictine community understood the importance of educating the whole person which confirmed my initial impressions. I am really looking forward to settling in and begin meeting with the faculty, staff, and students,” stated Payne.
For those who are unaware of what the provost position is, it is really the Chief Academic Officer, essentially. Their job is second in command to the president of the university, so you could say they are the vice president of the university. If Dr. Brophy were to be gone for a day, this person would be the one in charge.
“They are the leader of the faculty when all is said and done and when I am not here, they are in charge. So they are the number two at the university,” explained Dr. Brophy. The university president also went on to share his predictions on Payne. “He will be a future president someday, somewhere, if it’s not here.”
Payne is finishing his time as dean down at Georgia College and will start as our provost on May 1st.