Matthew Liao-Troth, provost at Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU), visited campus yesterday for a series of on-campus interviews, including an open forum with members of the campus and community.
Liao-Troth has served as provost at HPU since 2013. His previous positions held in higher education include working as a dean at Georgia College & State University and interim provost at Western Washington University.
At the open community forum, Liao-Troth said he values education for the opportunity it provides for students, and that everyone should get the opportunity.
“I think it’s very important for everyone to have that opportunity,” Liao-Troth said. “I think everyone who wants that opportunity should have that opportunity, which is why I’m concerned about access to higher education and the transformative nature of higher education.”
Later in the discussion, Liao-Troth cited working under bad leadership for a national non-profit as part of his inspiration to go back to higher education and teach others how to be successful leaders. He discussed his experience in non-profit leadership and education several times throughout the open forum, including in conversations of leadership and fundraising.
While at Western Washington, Liao-Troth got his first experience seeing how to run a university by sitting on meetings with the university president.
“I really got an understanding of how a university works and realized if I want to have an impact, if I want to make a difference, this is probably the way I can make the biggest difference,” Liao-Troth said.
When at Georgia College & State University, Liao-Troth worked for three presidents and eventually became a provost full-time, where he looked at professions and examined how to make a difference as a university. After Georgia College, Liao-Troth moved to HPU and has been provost there for the last five years.
Liao-Troth said one success at HPU was when the university acquired a failed waterfront mall and turn it into a hub for student housing and other needs.
“It was the first space that was actually big,” Liao-Troth said. “You didn’t have have to rent a theater if you wanted to do something special for the university.”
This also led to HPU being able to house the freshmen class for the past two years, something the university was not able to do previously.
When the topic switched to SRU, Liao-Troth said the university was amazing, with students loving the experience and staying in college, not dropping out.
“The students are finishing,” Liao-Troth said. “The other challenge is making sure that if a student starts they finish, and I think that SRU is doing an amazing job at that as well.”
Liao-Troth said the biggest challenge SRU faces is telling its story.
“The people locally know about it, people nearby know about it, but on a national stage, SRU is doing amazing stuff compared to most other schools and the other schools don’t know about it.”
Liao-Troth said he would spend his first 100 days as SRU president by having 100 conversations and talking with different constituencies inside and outside the university.
“We need to look at what we’re known for and what people think about us and why they think about us that way,” Liao-Troth said. “I see the role of the president as connecting SRU with the world and the world with SRU.”
Liao-Troth also showed support for organized labor, diversity and international studies.
Those who attended interviews with Liao-Troth can fill out the survey on the SRU News Presidential Search tab here .
William J. Behre, provost at Georgian Court University, will visit today, Feb 14. He is the third of five candidates visiting this week to be interviewed.