New Provost wins hearts with ice cream

Cindy Tong, Contributing Reporter

Provost Ben Vinson III made his debut to the Case Western Reserve University student body last Friday when he stood on the Binary Walkway with a table lined with cups of Mitchell’s ice cream. Vinson greeted each student with enthusiasm, a formidable task considering the size of the crowd that had been attracted by the promise of creamy deliciousness.

However, Vinson’s new role goes beyond handing out ice cream to hordes of hungry college students; as the new provost and executive vice president of the university, Vinson is in charge of many important tasks that involve continuing former Provost William “Bud” Baeslack’s work and implementing new initiatives.

As Provost, Vinson carries out a large range of responsibilities.

“I am responsible for each of the schools, research, admissions, student affairs, international affairs, UTech and several other related operations,” Vinson explained. “In this context, my role is not to accomplish personally, but rather to support, serve and collaborate. My goal is to do everything I can to help those who teach, research, coach, mentor, advise, explain and write—faculty, students, staff and alumni alike.”

Since Vinson arrived in July, his focus has been on meeting with CWRU students, staff, faculty and leaders across Northeast Ohio. Specifically, Vinson is continuing the Provost’s Commission on Undergraduate Education.

Vinson said, “I have been deeply impressed by the Commission’s work, in particular the care and creativity they brought to their task. Our challenge now is to determine together how best to bring its ideas to life.”

Vinson is also looking forward to launching a University-wide strategic plan and “building stronger connections between our schools, as well as connections between our University and our greater community.”

Vinson’s plans for the University stem from an admiration for the students and faculty, which he explained was the reason he was attracted to CWRU.

“I am excited to join such an exceptional community and eager to begin to contribute to its growing momentum. The more students I meet, the more inspired I become. They are smart, engaged and caring individuals,” he said. “They want to make a positive difference in the world—many already have—and also want to be around others with similar aspirations. I am honored to have this opportunity and consider it a true privilege to be a part of this community.”

CWRU is as equally excited to work with Vinson.

President Barbara Snyder said, “Provost Vinson has brought tremendous energy, wisdom and warmth to his work so far. Again and again I hear from people he has met what a great listener he is, and also what terrific questions he asks. He is clearly committed to learning about our campus and its people and also to contributing to our progress.”

Students have noticed Vinson’s approachability as well. First-year students Michelle Chu and Mia Formato both picked up a cup of ice cream on Friday.

Chu said, “I was very impressed with the selection of ice cream they had.”

Formato provided better insight to the Provost: “While I didn’t speak with the new Provost, he seemed really engaged in conversations with other students and he looked really friendly.”

The students, staff and faculty all look forward to what Vinson brings to CWRU and are excited for his new perspective and passion. Hopefully, he will decide to keep the tradition of providing free ice cream to students around.