As NEIU’s new provost, Dennis Rome’s responsibilities on campus include “overseeing everything academic on campus. From programs to course schedulings to classrooms- anything academic falls in this office.”
Rome started his position as provost and vice president of academic affairs on June 17 after a semester-long search committee selected him from a pool of candidates.
Born and raised in Chicago, Rome has worked all over the country in the past 30 years.
He has been employed at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Indiana University Bloomington, University of Wisconsin Parkside, Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia and now he is back in Illinois.
Working at several different locations and campuses has made Rome feel more prepared to assume the roles of provost at NEIU.
“Any type of institution, industry or business has to be careful not to keep likeness to a degree that it does not promote necessary change. By having experience at different types of institutions, I know the contrast of students. Those experiences have given me a tool box that I can draw from,” states Rome.
While he does have plans to implement changes and renovations at NEIU, Rome thinks that, “it would be a mistake to come in and start making changes right off the bat.” He first needs to do what he refers to as a ‘listening tour,’ where he introduces himself to all the different departments around campus.
“After I have visited as many places as I possibly can, we will look at areas where we can strengthen what we do to promote students’ success,” states Rome.
He continues, “And I say ‘we,’ because it is not just the staff here in this office, I mean students and faculty too. This is an institutional effort. I have to create those relationships and earn that trust and after we have done that we will start looking at areas to improve our retention rates and things like that.”
As far as his future plans for NEIU, Rome wants to focus on making classes more accessible for our diverse student body.
He noticed that “although we offer over 230 individual online/ hybrid courses, they are not packaged together where [students] can receive a degree in a specific program or earn a certificate just online.”
He concluded that the way NEIU’s online classes are currently organized is, “adversely affecting enrollment because it is not really drawing any new students.”
Rome also acknowledges the portion of the student body that are returning students.
He plans on addressing the time frame in which students can enroll for classes, seeing as how the demographic has shifted and there are not as many students registering for the traditional fall semester.
“More of our students have families or larger responsibilities. We have to make sure that we are meeting that need by offering more entry points in the school year. So we are looking at shorter time periods, utilizing the time between semesters, looking at how we can best offer summer classes,” Rome said.
While he has many ongoing obligations and roles to fulfill on campus, Rome wants the students at NEIU to know that he is “very approachable. [He] would love to be invited to some of the student activities to learn more about our students and who they are and what their challenges are and how [he] may better serve them.”
“My door is always open,” said Rome.