LSC’s interim president named NVU’s first provost


Nolan Atkins

On Tuesday, April 11, JSC President Elaine Collins announced that Dr. Nolan Atkins, interim president of Lyndon State College, has been chosen to be Northern Vermont University’s chief academic officer, its first provost.

“After careful consideration of the search committee’s review of the finalists and consultations with faculty, students, and staff, I determined that Nolan’s proven record of success from 20 years of teaching, research, and leadership would add immense value to our Executive Team,” she wrote in a letter to the JSC community. “Nolan has exhibited a strong commitment to students, faculty, and staff in all his previous assignments and comes highly recommended for his integrity, forward-looking vision, and data-driven decision making.  Additionally, given his interest in advancing a quality academic mission, his curiosity, and his collaborative leadership style, I have no doubt that he will thrive as Provost.”

Atkins was the last of four candidates to visit the college. In a March 28 colloquium, he spoke of his career teaching at LSC and briefly touched on his experience in administrative roles as a dean and interim president, which he admitted during the Q&A is a weak point of his: he has only had a couple of years of administrative experience under his belt.

The purpose of the colloquium, however, was to demonstrate how Atkins wanted to move forward with Northern Vermont University. He focused on academics and combining the culture of our campuses. “We absolutely need to ask the question: what is the added value for students?” he said. “What is the added value for students in the realm of academics, athletics, student life, within our greater community?”
“We have to start having collaborative communication,” he said later. “We have to start talking to each other to figure out how we can do this. In the realm of academics, it’s already happening with courses.



Laurie and Gina in psychology are travelling with Lyndon and Johnson students for a history of psychology course. How can we teach curricula collaboratively so we can start offering the lower enrolled courses that we often cancel on each campus?”

Atkins also had ideas on how to expand opportunities for traditional and non-traditional students. “There are other opportunities in the realm of graduate degrees,” he said. “I feel pretty strongly that we need to think more holistically about the type of credentials we offer beyond the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. There are a lot of particularly non-traditional students who would really appreciate the opportunity to engage in some sort of training. It could be a certificate in the realm of hospitality, or it could be a coding boot camp. I think there’s an opportunity there to provide other types of credentials for particularly non-traditional students in our local and regional area.”

While some of these ideas, especially concerning academics, were concrete, Atkins did not have specific answers to all of the questions from the audience. He said that details and concrete plans would have to be made after some discussions that have yet to happen. Discussion of finances, for example, was typically abstract and broad.

“We’re going to need to find additional cost savings and operational efficiencies,” he said. “We can do that when we collaborate and work together.”

Some faculty expressed concern during the colloquium that he was too close to Lyndon and the unification in general to do the job right, but he did have solid ideas for academic success for both campuses coming together.

In her letter, Collins noted the search committee, co-chaired by LSC professor Dr. Lori Werdenschlag and JSC Professor Greg Petrics considered nearly 65 applicants for the position.

Atkins, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Lyndon, was named interim president following the resignation of former president Joe Bertolino last summer. He had been serving as LSC’s interim academic dean.

According to the Lyndon website, Atkins received his B.S. in physics at University of Minnesota, and his masters and Ph.D. in meteorology at UCLA.

His research interests reflect a long fascination with severe storms, including tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms.

Atkins will become the founding provost for NVU effective July 1, 2018.