“There are measures I have already started on to delegate authorities, responsibilities and accountability to the Deans and they can do that within their schools as well. You’d be surprised at the amount of paper work that comes to the Provost office. It’s amazing,” Haroun said.
“[There are] things that need the signature of the provost for no apparent reason,” he added.
The Provost, who as the former Dean of the School of Science and Engineering (SSE) established new degree programs including undergraduate majors in architectural, computer and petroleum engineering, and master’s degrees in biotechnology, nanotechnology and food chemistry, suggested that Deans or department chairs are in a better position in their schools to make important decisions.
Haroun would like to see that accountability and authority is delegated to them as long as they are following the bylaws and rules of the university.
“We want to reduce the flow of work and decisions to be centralized… not everything has to be approved by the Provost,” he said.
Haroun has also been concerned by the lack of communication between the Registrar and the First Year Experience (FYE) program, an orientation platform for freshmen.
Students suffer from a long list of often confusing instructions their advisors, mentors and the Registrar give them on what classes to take, when to take them, and who to take them with.
Haroun’s administration may just be the answer to streamlining and easing the transition to university from high schools.
“There are many objectives I would like to reach in the university that will better serve the students, the faculty and staff, and over all academic programs. There are areas that need remedy immediately and one of them is the linking of registrations, and mentoring and advising,” he said.
“This has been a problem for many years and I hope to end this problem once and for all by the end of this spring semester... We have decided to tackle it immediately. We will shift resources from different areas wherever we can find them.”
The Provost would also like to restructure the way the FYE program works.
“We are asking them [students] to do too much in the first year. We are going to be taking a close look at the courses that are offered in the first year. The core curriculum works very well starting from the second year on but in the first, we are trying to do too much.
“We want to add and improve the skills the students have, but at the same time, we give them advanced courses that depend on these skills.”
Faculty, as well, may soon see changes in their schedules, course selections and options for teaching.
“The faculty have told me that they are heavily loaded with teaching. [I plan to introduce] the 2+3 system, which allows professors to teach 2 courses one semester, and 3 another semester, to give them enough time to get involved in other university activities, such as mentoring the students and research with affiliated universities. For those who are engaged in research, it will be a 2+2 schedule. This is a requirement if you want to be a world-class university: you have to have research.”
A concept the Provost knows well; he is the recipient of the Walter Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize and the Martin Duke Award for his research in earthquake engineering. Most recently, he accepted the 2010 AUC Excellence in Academic Achievement Award.
Between 2005 and 2011, Haroun has generated external funding for the school, including multi-million dollar grants from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, to fund student scholarships and research projects.
He was responsible for AUC’s first PhD program in applied sciences and engineering, and was able to secure funding for fellowships and research.