By Victoria Gill-Gomez and Erica Quinones
John S. Toll Associate Professor of Business Management Dr. Michael Harvey was announced as the new interim provost and dean of the College in an Aug. 18 email from the President’s Office.
Dr. Harvey succeeds former Provost and Dean of the College Dr. Patrice DiQuinzio who served in the position for three years.
When Dr. DiQuinzio’s departure was announced on June 1, the faculty encouraged the Board to hire a current faculty member as the interim provost, according to Dr. Harvey. This was suggested because of the instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That desire was fulfilled with the hiring of Dr. Harvey who is a long-standing member of the community.
“I think Michael is the right person for this moment at the College, and I want nothing but the best for WC because WC does the best for its students,” Dr. DiQuinzio said.
Joining the faculty in 1998, Dr. Harvey has been part of Washington College for over 20 years. During that time, he taught Organizational Behavior, and he served as chair of the Department of Business Management, Faculty Council chair, and as director of the First-Year Seminar Program.
His long tenure allowed him to watch the campus and its students grow over an entire generation.
Watching that growth has allowed him to develop along with the community, particularly learning to be less interested in himself and listen to others more often, according to Dr. Harvey.
“I have learned to listen more. I have always been a person with a lot of ideas. And, what I have learned is that my ideas are less and less important, and it is more important to encourage and empower other people’s ideas,” Dr. Harvey said.
According to Dr. Harvey, prioritizing other voices also made him less interested in himself. He finds it more satisfying and interesting for him to make the WC experience better for others.
The empowerment of other voices gives a platform to different viewpoints and facilitates the courage in others to execute their ideas, according to Dr. Harvey. But these voices do not only include his fellow faculty members’ creation of new curricula, but also the cultivation of a diverse and inclusive community as demanded by students.
The perspectives of underrepresented students as voiced during the 2019-2020 academic year produced a new image of his home of 20 years, revealing that, as Dr. Harvey said, “behind all that politeness, there were deep things that were not happening for minorities…for a very long time.”
Focusing on creating a community that is welcoming and safe for everyone is something that Dr. Harvey said he learned from students.
“I have met so many 18 and 19-year-olds who, somehow, they start off with that sort of orientation, that sense of helping others. You find them in peer mentors, student athlete mentors, Honor Board students, a lot of the kids who go into [Student Government Association], the amazing students who went to protest this last year. There are so many young people at the College who frankly inspire me and have taught me about what you can call decentering. Thinking about others in the community more than about yourself,” Dr. Harvey said.
Dr. Harvey said that he is “really proud to say that students have really taken the charge to force the community to really confront something about the past. There is such a sense of community at the College, but it gives all the more determination now to make it work for everybody and not just for some people.”
Closing the gap between communities is what Dr. Harvey wants to prioritize as interim provost and dean of the College.
Dr. Harvey said that he wants to strengthen those relationships by first bringing student voices into “every big decision that we make.”
He wants students to have agency so they can stand up, be heard, and correct what they perceive as wrong.
Beyond including student voices in major decision-making processes, Dr. Harvey also said that the demands which students made during the Spring 2020 semester were “sound, wise, and urgent,” and “need to be at the forefront of our agenda this fall.”
The other aspect of strengthening those relationships is further integrating the College with Chestertown.
Dr. Harvey described WC as the “College on the hill”; however, the College cannot and should not remain separate from Chestertown
“We are a college in a community. We are embedded in Chestertown. For a very long time, the College ran itself apart from and separate from the town,” Dr. Harvey said. “I want to contribute to a really rich relationship with the town and with the county. There are amazing people, there is an amazing history around us…and I want there to be lots of connections so that nobody thinks about ‘the College on the hill,’ and everybody thinks about the College in Chestertown.”
While Dr. Harvey looks towards the future of the College and Chestertown as he forms a strategic plan for the College’s academic programs, he does not want to remain a provost.
Dr. Harvey wants to return to teaching after his three-year term.
He sees fulfilling this role as paying back the College for the support it gave him throughout his career. And he is not done with the position that the College has provided him for two decades. Despite being interim provost, Dr. Harvey will teach two of the three courses he planned for the Fall 2020 semester.
“This year represents a great challenge for students and their families. Students are being asked to learn in a way that they did not sign up, that they did not foresee, and that frankly are not as rich as the in-person experiences that our College is built around. Nevertheless, we are going to achieve greatness this year in our teaching and in our learning.,” Dr. Harvey said. “We are limited only by imagination and wellness to innovate and try.”
Featured Photo caption: After over twenty years of teaching at Washington College, John S. Toll Associate Professor of Business Management Dr. Michael Harvey accepted the position as interim provost and dean of the College. He stressed the need to encourage and empower other voices in decision making and idea pitching, touching on the role that the faculty, students, and Chestertown have in shaping the College community. Photo by Mark Cooley.