Candidates from all over the country were considered for the position of provost and academic vice president, but the position ultimately went to one of John Carroll University’s own.
Jeanne Colleran, the new provost and academic vice president of JCU, is a 1976 graduate of Carroll and has worked at the University since her appointment as a visiting professor in the English department in 1987.
“After graduating, my other choice was to teach at large, public universities. However, I was more drawn to come back to a small college with primarily an undergraduate populationand to a Jesuit college,” said Colleran. “I like it here and if I hadn’t gone to John Carroll, I wouldn’t have had any of the opportunities that I have now.”
The focus of Colleran’s work is on integrating the student learning experience, prioritizing academic programming budgets and implementing the Higher Learning Commission report. She is the first woman to hold the position at JCU.
“The provost position should help to integrate conversations around mission, diversity, student and academic affairs—as all of those are a part of the student experience here,” she said.
Colleran has worn many hats in her time at JCU, holding positions including the chair of the English department and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“They are administrative roles that, in part, help you to prepare for another administrative role,” noted Colleran. “Some things are in common, a lot of things are new that I am learning to do—but the common thread for me is knowing the John Carroll community very well from all of these years.”
In her time as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Colleran worked to establish new core curriculum around health and globalization.
“They’re getting ready for what they want to do in life, but all along the way, to be asking the bigger questions—thinking about the answers. It’s about being able to inspect their own presumptions and assumptions and take responsibility for those opinions and how they play out in the world,” she said.
Colleran seeks to put students into learning situations with difficult and intellectually daunting tasks, in an attempt to challenge them academically.
“I had very good teachers and they didn’t put up with sloppy writing,” noted Colleran about her John Carroll education. “The teachers didn’t put up with cliché…If you are in an intellectual dead end, then you are going to be at an ethical and moral dead end.”
Colleran specializes in political theater, contemporary fiction as well as Irish and South African literature. Her passion for global efforts has driven her work with fellow faculty to enable greater student networking opportunities abroad.
Some of the global opportunities Colleran has spearheaded an Mayo Society scholarship in Ireland, JCU student study abroad in China and exchange programs of faculty in Vietnam. Her scope of community is not only on the global stage, but is also centered on the local area.
Colleran said, “I want to be more present in the larger Cleveland community and the communities where our alums are. I want to be able to go out and tell the good news about John Carroll and about our students.”
An integral part of her focus in Cleveland is opening up internship availability for JCU students. Recently, she worked to help the University receive the Great Lakes Internship Grant, giving 38 students opportunities to have paid internships in the Cleveland health field.
As a whole, Colleran seeks to guide students through the mission of the University.
“John Carroll has always done something exceptional in its support for students,” she said. “ It’s not a quantifiable thing necessarily—it’s ethos. We have been recognized for that—being particularly good teachers. But, until you get to know this institution well, you may not know as deeply what the commitment is to student learning.”