New Associate Provost ready to tackle change: ‘always something to improve upon’ in higher ed

Taiwo+Ande+joined+Cal+Lutheran%27s+Educational+Effectiveness+Office+in+June.+One+of+the+initial+goals+of+his+position%2C+according+to+a+June+22+email+from+the+Office+of+the+President%2C+is+evaluating+how+race+is+discussed+within+the+curriculum.

Contributed: University Photographer Brian Stethem

Taiwo Ande joined Cal Lutheran’s Educational Effectiveness Office in June. One of the initial goals of his position, according to a June 22 email from the Office of the President, is evaluating how race is discussed within the curriculum.

Christian Davis, Reporter

This summer, California Lutheran University welcomed a new staff member, expanding the perspectives within the Educational Effectiveness and Institutional Research Department.

“One of those things that really drives a lot of my profession, my career, has been around focusing on student success,” Taiwo Ande, the new associate provost for Educational Effectiveness, said in a Zoom interview. “It’s always really gratifying being in positions where you can influence students, making sure they have a very positive experience.”

Ande previously served as associate vice president at Academic Affairs at Florida A&M University and most recently, dean of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at Southern California University of Health Sciences.

When it came down to three finalists for the position, there was no question Ande was the best choice, Vice President of Academic Affairs Leanne Neilson said in a Zoom interview.

“Dr. Ande gave a … presentation on some of our campus data, and he came out head and shoulders the best person for the job,” Neilson said.

As Assistant Provost, Ande oversees assessments of academic programs, accreditation of programs through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the handling of institutional research.

According to a June 22 anti-racism update email from the Office of the President, Ande is also leading an assessment of the curriculum.

This assessment is evaluating how race is discussed in the classroom to “integrate culturally relevant material into classes and better shape the curriculum to address issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion,” according to the email.

One additional area Ande will oversee, added this year, is faculty development. This entails making sure faculty has the required knowledge and tools to perform their jobs effectively.

“That [area] has become huge since the pandemic, since our digital learning team has had to take over training faculty on all kinds of new skills and technologies,” Neilson said.

Ande will be working in conjunction with the Digital Learning Department through the Center for Teaching and Learning, making sure faculty have the skills to use technology as effectively as possible to ensure student success.

“I am very excited to have Dr. Taiwo [Ande] on board,” Mirwais Azizi, director of Digital Learning, said in a phone interview.

The Digital Learning Department has hosted nearly 600 training sessions since March, training over 450 faculty members in how to use and thrive with the new digital platforms, Azizi said.

Ande said he is not only invested in faculty success, but also in improving Cal Lutheran as a whole.

“There’s always something to improve upon regardless [of] how good you are,” Ande said. “Some of the challenges the institution faced in the last couple of months, that’s an area, that’s an opportunity.”

With students calling for an equitable campus climate and the successive closure of campus in the spring, Ande said this is the perfect opportunity to better the institution.

“You students are very powerful; things that we [faculty and staff] can get done, you can get it done overnight,” Ande said. “We are all here because of you.”