Wright State University gave a warm official embrace to new Provost Susan Edwards with a welcoming reception in which she was described as a passionate educator with a growth mindset.
Faculty, staff, students and community members gathered in the Student Union Atrium on Sept. 18 to hear and meet Edwards, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Edwards, former vice provost for faculty affairs at Appalachian State University, assumed her post at Wright State on July 30, succeeding Thomas Sudkamp, who served as provost since 2015.
“She has hit the ground running,” President Cheryl B. Schrader told the gathering. “She brings such an energy and passion to her vocation. … Dr. Edwards has clearly left a positive impression on us in a short amount of time.”
Edwards said Wright State and the Dayton community have been one of the most welcoming she has ever experienced.
“I look forward to working with everybody as we move the campus towards its new future,” she said. “It’s exciting times. Difficult times are always exciting times in that they provide opportunity for growth. And it’s time for us now to take this opportunity to move Wright State into its next iteration and its next future.”
Edwards called Wright State students “fantastic.”
“I have met so many of them,” she said. “We are here to provide our students with the utmost transformational, educational experience that they can have. And I’m very pleased to say we have the faculty who can do that.”
After making brief remarks, Edwards individually greeted a long line of well-wishers.
It was the first time Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science, had met Edwards. He said she is very personable.
“I think we have a lot of fresh perspective and new energy in this administration now,” Hannah said. “We’re enthusiastic just to see some creativity and the new plans that come forward. I’m optimistic and looking forward to what comes.”
Schrader said Edwards exhibits a “growth mindset.”
“A growth mindset is really what allows you to take those challenges that we’ll always have, turn them into opportunity and just leverage them in a way that will help us move forward as a university,” Schrader said.
Edwards chairs the new Growth Mindset Advisory Team, an advisory group of faculty, staff, administrators and trustees.
“I’m always mindful of what’s in the rearview mirror, but when I’m driving the car I am always looking forward,” said Edwards. “As an institution we have a lot to be proud of and we need to work together to move forward.”
Edwards sees her role at Wright State as making sure people have the tools they need to be successful.
“We need to be true to our mission and our values. That’s the reason I came here — the values of Wright State aligned with mine,” she said. “I think we provide an opportunity for students to get a high-quality education that can truly transform their futures. That’s what I’m happy to be part of.”
Edwards was selected as provost after a four-month national search that included a diverse pool of approximately 50 candidates.
She had served as vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of biology at Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina, since August 2015. She was responsible for overseeing all areas of faculty evaluation and development and served as the academic affairs liaison on all personnel matters.
In 2007, Edwards left her native Australia to join the Department of Biology at Appalachian State. She then took on a leadership role as assistant chair for three years before being appointed chair of the department in 2012.
Previously, she was the Australian equivalent of an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and served as dean’s campus liaison at the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences at James Cook University in Australia. She also served as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University.
Edwards earned a Ph.D. in comparative physiology from Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, an M.S. in neuroscience from The University of Melbourne and her B.S. in biology from Deakin.