February 25, 2019 | Joliet, Ill.
The University of St. Francis (USF) is pleased to announce that Beth K. Roth, Ph.D. will join the University as its new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs beginning on July 1, 2019. Roth will succeed Frank Pascoe, D.A., who will be returning to the faculty to teach Biology in the Department of Natural & Health Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences after serving as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs since 2008. Roth currently serves as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Alvernia University in Reading, PA.
“Dr. Roth frequently cites the Franciscan ideal of ‘knowledge joined with love’ as one of the reasons she joined the community at Alvernia,” said USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D. “As she joins the University of St. Francis, she looks forward to forging new relationships and living out the institution’s commitment to ‘reverence for creation, compassion and peacemaking,’ and she is excited to continue promoting the value of a Franciscan, Catholic education that prepares ethical leaders poised to make a positive difference in our world. We are honored to welcome her to our USF family.”
According to Roth, her journey through the search process revealed several key characteristics of USF – beyond those of its Catholic foundation and Franciscan values with which she was already familiar because of her experience at Alvernia – that confirmed her initial interest in becoming a member of the University’s executive leadership team and school community.
“I was intent on continuing my career in Catholic education, and at an institution where I could contribute my experience and expertise while growing professionally. USF presented that opportunity initially in the Provost position announcement,” Roth said. “As I advanced in the search, and learned more about USF through my research and the search committee, I became more excited about the possibility of working with a talented group of faculty, staff and administrators to achieve institutional goals. Under President Johnson’s leadership, USF is a dynamic institution that has accomplished much and is poised for sustained growth.”
“I experienced this first hand when I visited campus,” she continued. “What took my breath away, however, was how deeply I felt the Franciscan values lived out in all aspects of USF. The physical spaces, exchange of ideas, conversations with students, and generous hospitality, for example, reinforced the strong sense of identity and mission at USF. Often undergraduates say they ‘know’ when a place feels just right when they visit a college campus for the first time. I felt that same sense of belonging at USF.”
In addition to experiencing a sense of belonging at USF, Roth indicated that her visit to campus also provided her with a greater sense of some of the University’s areas of immediate focus.
“During my campus visit, I listened intently to gain a sense of what deserved priority attention. Granted, this was in a very short amount of time. There is excitement about bolstering student advising, supporting a diverse student body, understanding the complexity of faculty workload in today’s environment, mentoring faculty throughout their careers, streamlining policies, maximizing the use of available technology to create operational efficiencies and ensuring quality programs,” she said.
Roth knows she is joining USF at an exciting time. The University is preparing to celebrate its centennial in 2020, and she is eager to share her ideas on how it can use the energy around this milestone to set itself up for continued success for years and years to come.
“It will be a privilege to celebrate the centennial of USF, and work with the deans, faculty, and staff to forge a new academic vision. I have some specific ideas for how we might harness the enthusiasm for this historic milestone to dream about a thriving University of St. Francis well into the future. Encouraging innovation while sharing ideas and data will inform strategic direction for program growth,” Roth said.
While there is much excitement around helping to celebrate the University’s centennial, Roth also understands that private colleges and universities across the country are faced with a variety of challenges. She is confident, though, that she is prepared to help USF continue on its upward trajectory.
“Every institution faces challenges, yet the centennial celebration can function as a springboard for thinking outside-the-box to problem-solve and position USF for continued growth and financial strength. Private universities dependent on tuition need to focus on increasing enrollment, persistence and graduation rates. With the main campus, St. Clare campus, downtown Joliet campus and PA program in Albuquerque, there is a diversity of resources with growth potential in a variety of areas. I hope my collaborative leadership style will allow faculty to bring forth ideas and come to consensus on strategic direction,” Roth said.
“Over the coming decades, I believe we will see more partnerships among universities, health agencies, local communities, etc. so maintaining a nimbleness to respond to emerging opportunities will be important,” she continued. “USF is committed to inclusion, and my role as Special Assistant to the President for Inclusive Excellence has prepared me to navigate difficult situations that seem to appear more frequently, judging from headlines, in higher education settings. USF is also committed to quality and access. The recognitions and rankings by accrediting bodies and well-known publications are important indicators of quality. My work with regional and program accreditation and compliance provides valuable perspectives to ensure academic excellence while keeping affordability central. USF’s consistently solid rankings are impressive. But it would be nice to inch even higher!”
While the start to Roth’s official tenure with the University is still a few months off, she does plan to be on campus and in the area prior to that time in order to support key events, including the Thriving Colleges Institute in May and the University’s June Board of Trustees meeting.
Roth has served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Alvernia University since 2012. Prior to Dr. Roth’s appointment at Alvernia, she enjoyed a twelve-year career at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, a liberal arts university with a reputation for quality programs emphasizing social justice, experiential learning and cross-cultural engagement. There, Roth began her academic tenure as faculty in the Music Department, served as Chair, and managed the university-sponsored Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. In 2006 she was promoted to Associate Dean for Curriculum, holding concurrent responsibilities directing the General Education Program, Cross-cultural Program and Community Learning Program. She was instrumental in establishing innovative assessment methodologies to meet accreditation compliance, promote quality enhancement, and drive strategic planning.
Roth graduated from Vassar College with general and departmental honors and earned a Ph.D. in Music History and Theory from the University of Chicago in 1999. She has been recognized with more than twelve domestic and international fellowships and grants, including the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, supporting research in Chile, and American Association of University Women American Fellowship.
The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.
University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.