Provost Nowell Donovan shares his vision of university’s future


    Provost Nowell Donovan shared his views of what the university has planned for the future at the Faculty Favorite Lecture Series on Wednesday night.

    “The university will be a place where Einstein would be happy to talk with Picasso, [that] is what we are trying to create,” said Donovan.

    Donovan said that students’ imaginations are no longer captured due to the current confinements of higher education. The world is changing rapidly and students need to be taught in a way that benefits the world in the future, Donovan said.

    Donovan said it is imperative that TCU grows as a university. The growth would be in quality, not size, he said.

    “We are all involved in the task of developing generations for the future,” Donovan said. 

    Donovan showed slides during the lecture of how east campus will be renovated.  These renovations include new buildings and classrooms designed to engage students with a more imaginative higher education layout, said Donovan.  He said some of the classrooms in the new buildings will be scale-up classrooms that allow professors and students to decide the structure of the room.

    Donovan said the changes to east campus would include an Intellectual Commons, which would be an academic counterpart to the social commons already on campus.

    A graph shown during the lecture highlighted that in the year 2100, the world population will exceed 8 billion people. Donovan said the information on the graph creates great challenges and people cannot ignore them. These great challenges include how people of the future will have enough food, water and energy to survive. 

    The issues that arise in the future will need to be solved by students, he said. The new layout of higher education in the Academy of Tomorrow will help foster solutions to these problems, said Donovan.

    Joe Nichols, former geology professor and agriculturalist, said the graph made him worry about food in the future. He was glad to see the university will be leading people to solutions in the future.

    Paulette Burns, dean of the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said she had heard about the Academy of Tomorrow, but came to the lecture to hear the full story from Donovan’s perspective.

    Burns said she liked the creative thinking in the lecture and liked learning how students and faculty will be engaged in different ways than they are now.

    Zachariah Stoughton, a professor of music, said he liked the idea of developing a student portfolio from the lecture.  Donovan said in the lecture that a new program requiring every student to develop an electronic portfolio would help demonstrate their capabilities they have acquired during their time at the university.

    The portfolio is an excellent and innovative idea that would benefit many of his students during their time on campus, even the ones who are not music majors, Stoughton said.

    “Have pride in your institution,” Donovan said. “Not false pride, but pride that you actually are making a difference, that one day you will be able to look in the mirror and respect what you see.”