Jay Stein, 58, was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a medical doctor with a specialization in Renal Physiology. Stein is currently the Senior Vice-President and Provost of the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City. As the Chief Executive Officer the Senior Vice-President and Provost he has direct responsibility for the fiscal, administrative, academic and clinical services leadership of the Health Science Center campuses.
Stein has a strong and solid list of articles and publications as well as experience in fundraising and has initiated or been involved in million dollar projects like the planning and schematic design for a 17 million dollar Ambulatory care clinic.
His administrative experience began in 1977 when he became the chairman of the Medicine Department at the University of Texas. He jokes about it: "I did not have a clue on what to do in this kind of job. Very quickly I learned that when people came into my office and wanted to talk about investigation and what class to write, they either wanted money or space." In a more serious tone he adds, "But I did get used to it and learned the skills necessary to, at times, tell people no and not making them feel offended, and as best as you could, say yes and find the resources to help them develop their programs."
He also stated that when he started, his department only had 25 faculty and by the time he left in 1992 he had 175 people in the department, and many of them were renown people. Looking for a challenge he then accepted the position of Senior Vice-President and Provost of the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, where he has been described as "the person who has made more changes in 2 years than many others in 30."
After his brief introduction he opened the floor for questions and answers. The first question Stein faced was what had made him think about leaving all of that and coming to WPI. To which he answered, "One has to take challenges." He also explained that there were several reasons. One of them being that he felt he had done all he could do in that short period of time in Oklahoma, and that now most of his time was spent dealing with the health care revolution rather than with administrative issues. He also claimed to be impressed with WPI's undergraduate program.
It was pointed out to him that his division did not have a Humanities department while in WPI this represented a significant aspect. "I tried to put myself in one of the students' place as they are going through the 3 phases of the WPI plan[...] and I can't imagine disrupting those aspects. I think that really is the key. That an individual is, in fact, looking at it[a problem] from the social standpoint of the issue in Science, or vice-versa," he answered.
Stein was also prompted to comment on his ideas about global perspectives and diversity to which he commented that upon his arrival at Oklahoma University he felt that the University was not doing as much as they could have done in that issue. He started programs for the recruitment of more minority students and faculty, being more successful with student recruitment than with faculty. However, he felt that Oklahoma still had a ways to go but, "Also every institution in the country had ways to go."
Another question dealt with whether he thought that WPI was, could or should be a research university. "WPI's great strength is its incredible devotion to excellence in undergraduate education. Are there research programs? Yes. Are there renown people? Absolutely. Is it comparable to MIT and Caltech? No, at least at this point. Could it be achievable? The answer is yes, but only if that goal in no way diverts or takes funds away from what the institution does best and that is undergraduate education." He also pointed out that the Worcester community offered "opportunities for research that could enhance the institution in ways it has not been done before."
His views on our educational process were also exposed, "the system you [WPI] have put together here looks more imaginative that what I have seen before... It is a program that makes your institution unique."
When commenting on his relationships with students he mentioned that he has dealt with both undergrad and grad students as a professor and as a role model. One fact he mentioned that had pleased him the most was that he had jump started the Campus Center for his University. He also joked about the importance of avoiding talking about parking on Campus, unless it is extremely necessary.
Another question had to do with his view on the fraternity system. He said that although he had joined a fraternity, his contacts with fraternities had been various and under different conditions. Therefore, he could not go into details in that question because not many details had been given to him about the fraternity system at WPI, aside from the fact that WPI had a strong Greek system.
Regarding federal and institution cutbacks he expressed the feeling that the answer was not cutbacks but "increasing revenues and lowering costs."
Towards the end of the open meeting questions got more informal and we got to know a Jay Stein whose management style fell along the lines of being always accessible to people and walking around to see what was happening on campus and what the concerns of the people were. "Getting people involved" is one of the keys to a good administration.
He also considers himself a golf fanatic, enjoys audiovisual movies, collects wine "and I drink some of it too" he adds with a big smile. His philosophy of life is not to take himself so seriously, to be always "involved and enthusiastic" and overall he likes to "enjoy life."
Presidential candidate Jay Stein seems to be a strong candidate for the position. During the next couple of weeks we will have the opportunity to meet the other two candidates.
A copy of the Jay Stein's curriculum vitae is located in the SGA office if students are interested in having input.