Dr. Jeremy D. Brown, one of four candidates for the presidency at The University of Texas-Pan American, was the first to visit the campus and interview with key officials Wednesday, Sept. 16 as part of the search process for UTPA's eighth president.
Brown, president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania since 2007, spent the day meeting with college deans, Staff and Faculty Senates, students and community leaders. A native of Manchester, England, he earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Birmingham, England. His doctoral work in experimental nuclear physics was conducted at both the University of Birmingham and the University of California-Berkeley. Immediately following the completion of his Ph.D. requirements, Brown spent two years at Indiana University doing nuclear physics research.
He later accepted a faculty position in the physics department of Princeton University, where in addition to continuing his research, he taught undergraduate and graduate-level physics courses. Transitioning into academic administration, Brown was named associate dean of the Graduate School at Yale University. Later, he returned to Princeton as associate dean of the faculty. In 2000, Brown was named rector of Florida State University-Panama, serving as the chief executive officer of a small U.S. university operating in Latin America. In 2003, Brown accepted a position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at SUNY-Canton where he served as the university's chief academic officer, steered campus-wide strategic planning, oversaw growth in distance learning opportunities and cultivated many international collaborations.
During his one-day visit to UTPA, Brown also had the opportunity to participate in two open forums at the Student Union Theater where he introduced himself and talked about his administrative philosophy and goals, and then took questions from the University community.
"You are a very special institution and you have a lot of potential. You are at a really intriguing point in your history where you will explore where you are going to be in five or 10 years, and how high you can aspire," Brown said. "I want to lead this institution not only to the next level, but the level beyond that. I believe that you have terrific infrastructure, wonderful faculty who are very accomplished, talented students and great facilities."
Brown said he knows what it is like to be at an institution with first-generation students, who come from families where the average income is low.
"I'm committed to public higher education because I believe that we can make a difference in society, not just in the lives of our students but their brothers and sisters, their neighbors and their family," he said.
Brown told the forum attendees being visible as a president is very important. During his first year in Edinboro, he said he spent the night sleeping in every student dormitory on campus.
"I like to walk around campus. It really makes my day when a student stops and asks me a question or says hello because they know who their president is and they feel comfortable approaching me," Brown said.
At Edinboro, he currently has an office hour once a month where anyone can come and meet with him.
"It's that kind of openness that makes people feel like they have the opportunity to speak with you and that you are accessible that I find most important," Brown said.
During the open forum Brown added that the president should also be transparent in the decision-making processes.
"The decision-making process should be one that is collective and we should all be part of that. We should feel like our voices are heard, our feelings are considered, and at the end of the day we are working together to better the campus. I work really hard because I believe in what I do," he said.
Brown said his management style is based on empowering people to do their jobs and noted that his philosophy about work is that the university community needs to have fun.
"I encourage people to be more creative, to be innovators and to take risks and to own what they do," he said. "If we're not having fun doing what we're doing, then we're either in the wrong job, or doing the job incorrectly."
Brown also noted the university has a huge role to play in the economic development of the surrounding communities.
"We have the responsibility to do the best that we can to help the city thrive," Brown said. "We are not going to drive that process but can provide expertise, support, and advice."
During his career, Brown has published many scholarly articles and has been an invited speaker at international conferences, research institutions and universities. He served as a visiting scientist at the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Manitoba, the Department of Nuclear Physics at Oxford University and the National Accelerator Centre in Cape Town.
"I think we should always remember that at the end of the day we are a teaching institution and we are here to provide an education; that is the root cause of what we are doing," Brown said. "But, scholarly work for our faculty is also extremely important."
Three more candidates are set to visit the University campus Sept. 18, 21 and 23.