York College’s Interim Provost Panayiotis Meleties is one of three candidates currently interviewing to replace former Provost Ivelaw Griffith.
And while Meleties, who formerly worked with President Marcia V. Keizs at Bronx Community College, seems to be the odds on favorite, some members of SGA aren’t convinced he’d be the first choice among students.
On Oct. 9 officials held the first of three meetings as part of a process for appointing York’s next Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. The new provost will replace Griffith, who became president at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. Meleties has been interim provost since Griffith left in July of 2013.
“The search has been going on for several months and we’re down to the last three candidates,” said Gerard McNeil, Chair of the York College Search Committee.
As part of the process each candidate will come to York for a full-day of interviewing and meetings with President Keizs, students, and faculty, according to McNeil.
“This particular person runs academic affairs, which all students and faculty should be interested and concerned about,” said McNeil. The meetings are open to students, and although the college sent out several emails inviting all students to attend, getting them there is left up to the Student Government Association (SGA) he said. “It’s their responsibility to invite students to this particular session.”
At the sparsely attended meeting, SGA President Shaikh Amin disagreed.
“It’s not really our job to select students, everyone should come,” said Amin. “There was no one here when I came, we went and found as many students as we could.”
Aside from asking Meleties questions about what he plans to change and students voicing their concerns, they were also given the chance to write down what they liked and disliked about the candidate and submit their feedback.
“He seemed very academic oriented, but as far as everything else, to me it just sounded like he was answering the questions, and saying the answers he thinks we want to hear,” said Emmanuel Ologundudu, 19, a Social Work major. “I would say he doesn’t have students’ best interests as far as what happens outside of the classroom.”
After the meeting Amin acknowledged students’ concerns, but was not satisfied with the way Meleties responded.
“All the questions and concerns that were raised were really valid and some of the answers we’re not really happy with, we know they tried to ignore it,” said Amin.
“He has been acting provost for a year, but we haven’t seen much of a difference,” said Amin. “Things are improving but we have a lot of concerns…I am hoping for better.”
Amin said he would have liked to attend the other meetings, but could not as they took place the following Tuesday and Thursday Oct. 14 and 16 during club hours when students were engaged in other activities.
But unlike Amin, some students and faculty felt differently.
“I actually liked him, hearing firsthand from someone that actually wants to change York College was quite interesting, I liked the fact that he was approachable and understandable,” said Gaitrie Nandalall, 22, a Business major.
“I expect him to continue the good work he’s doing,” said Lisa Maycock, disabilities accommodations specialist for York’s Center for Students with Disabilities.
Maycock admitted her view of Meleties was from an “academic perspective” and she could not speak about student concerns.
“Academic-wise he really does stand up for students. He’s very reliable and dependable,” said Maycock.
His interactions with others, she said, may be different.
In her opinion, Maycock said she would like to see Meleties as provost, but would try to attend the other meetings to get an overview of the other candidates. “Thus far I think he should be given the opportunity to be provost,” said Maycock.