Two more hopefuls visit as provost search winds down

The search for a new provost continues as two of five candidates spoke to faculty and students last week. C. William Balke of the University of Kentucky visited Main Campus last Monday and Lisa Staiano-Coico

The search for a new provost continues as two of five candidates spoke to faculty and students last week. C. William Balke of the University of Kentucky visited Main Campus last Monday and Lisa Staiano-Coico of Cornell University visited the Health Sciences Campus last Wednesday. The last finalist, Dr. Jeffrey Seemann of the University of Rhode Island, will visit Main Campus this week.

C. William Balke

“Coming home is something you can never underestimate,” said Balke, who attended
Temple’s School of Medicine in the late 1970s. Balke, who is the associate provost for clinical translational service at the University of Kentucky, said his days at Temple were much different than those of current students.

“You took your life in your hands living here,” Balke said.

From the new buildings to the size and diversity of the student body, Balke said the changes at Main Campus have been so dramatic, but he is excited to see all of the new development.

After earning his medical degree, Balke completed his residency training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, becoming the hospital’s assistant chief of service in medicine.

He then moved on to various administrative
positions at the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania. But at the University of Kentucky, Balke said he focuses on the students, making them a priority and including their input in the school’s decisions. When the university decided to construct a facility similar to the TECH Center, student input during the planning process led to many adjustments in the building’s design.

The students thought of things that the administration never considered, Balke said.

Balke wants to bring the process of collaborating with students to Temple.

“There needs to be a formal mechanism
that students can carry their concerns or complaints [and] make sure students are represented,” Balke said. The main responsibility of the provost is to make sure that all constituents are heard as the school moves forward to meet its goals. This includes students, who are the largest group of constituents, he said.

“I really liked the fact that he wanted to make himself available to the students,” said Temple Student Government Vice President of Academic Affairs Priya Patel. Beyond building relationships with the students, Balke would like to maintain a diverse environment, reach out to non-traditional students and expand the excellence that already exists here.

Eric Stephenson, a sophomore international
business and finance double major, wants the provost to be the liaison between students and the president.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve only seen the provost at a Board of Trustees meeting,” Stephenson said, adding that he liked Balke but is worried about how he’s going to interact with students.

Proud to be a Temple alum, Balke said he got an amazing education here, adding that students need to realize that they got an education second to none at Temple. If Balke could do it all over again he said he would still go to Temple, but enroll in the horticultural program at Ambler and become a park ranger. Balke is a flower enthusiast who raises orchids in his spare time. He chose medicine because it allowed him to combine his interests in humanities and science.

Balke said he would like to return to Temple because he wants to repay the school for all the opportunities it opened up for him.

Lisa Staiano-Coico

said she already feels a connection with Temple students, adding that in her college days she was similar to many Temple students.

“The students are very much like I was, the fire in the belly [wanting] to make something in the world,” Staiano-Coico said.

Staiano-Coico, like many Temple students,
commuted to school and attended Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where she earned a degree in biology
with honors. It was an education her parents could afford. Staiano-Coico said she is eager to relocate to an urban environment after living for many years in the small town of Ithaca, N.Y., where she is the dean of human ecology at Cornell University.

Staiano-Coico said it’s a great time to be in Philadelphia because the students are excited to be here and she shares that excitement.

If selected to be provost, she said she would serve as a cheerleader for students.

“The job of the provost is to see academic
aspects from a student’s perspective, ensuring the best education you can get,” Staiano-Coico said.

One of the most important jobs of the provost is bringing groups together and collaborating, Staiano-Coico said. She would like to bring Temple’s satellite campuses together and recommends that deans from these campuses meet on a regular basis.

In spite of disagreements, the provost still needs to work things out and empower the people on your team, she said.Called “Dean Lisa” by students and faculty
at Cornell, Staiano-Coico mentors undergraduate students at Cornell and would like to create close relationships with the students at Temple as well.

To accomplish this goal, she would like to bring a student-mentor program, previously
piloted at Cornell, to Temple. The program pairs students with alumni, allowing students to observe different professions and career paths while providing them with great networking connections.

Staiano-Coico also worked closely with students as the faculty advisor for the Cornell DanceSport Team. She became fascinated with ballroom dancing after her husband surprised her with lessons on their 25th wedding anniversary. She has competed on the amateur level. Staiano-Coico is also an avid crafter and a lover of Pilates. She said these activities add balance to her life, saying that students also need a healthy balance between partying and studying.

She said she gives this advice to her college-aged children and tells them that passion is the key. Staino-Coico left students with this piece of advice: “Work as hard as you can to the best that you can. Not everybody is great in everything, but as long as you’re working your hardest, that’s all you can do.”

LeAnne Matlach can be reached at

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