Dr. Eric Jensen has been on the job as provost at Hamline since July 1, 2012, and in that time he has been busy talking to students, faculty, and staff, and getting to know the university on a deeper level.
Provost Jenson recently took some time to talk about his background, his initial impressions of Hamline and his goals and hopes for its future.
What is your background?
I studied economics as an undergraduate and then went to graduate school in Michigan where we received a grant to study economic demography, which is what I wanted to do. I happened to be in one of the two best places in the world for this type of study. So we worked with economists, sociologists, and many others on issues of population in developing countries.
After receiving my PhD at the College of William and Mary, I worked on research studies in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and other areas in Southeast Asia. After that, I went to work for a couple years at a think-tank in Hawaii called the East-West Center and then returned to work in Indonesia, the Philippines, and back to Bangladesh. I went out to Thailand and Romania just to mix it up a bit.
I went back to the College of William and Mary to be an economics professor for a while, where I was then asked to be the director of the public policy which I really enjoyed. I like being an administrator. What is a Provost?
A provost is the chief academic officer. You are kind of the first among equals among the vice presidents. You have a wide portfolio pertaining to everything here including the student experience and athletics, to development and support of academics. It’s kind of a mix of all aspects of the university. Why Hamline?
The people, though the location is nice. They tell me it gets cold here in the winter. What I was really impressed with when I first starting talking to people here is the quality of the faculty and their commitment to Hamline. It’s quite a nice combination. How has your background prepared you for the position here at Hamline?
I think the broad things I had to do while I was director of the public policy at the College of William and Mary were really the training I needed to prepare me for this position. The various wide varieties of tasks I had to lead really helped me. I am also fundamentally a faculty member, which really helps me to represent the faculty to the university.
How do you see academics changing?
We need to maintain the quality that defines Hamline. I think that there are ways that technology can extend the leverage factor, and really tailor teaching to individual needs. What are your thoughts on the Anderson Center?
The Anderson Center makes the campus fundamentally different. The sheer appeal of the building is going to become a centerpiece of Hamline. Hamline obviously needed the place. The function will be great.
What type of changes do you see to the campus?
Space is the toughest thing to come by. I think there will be some changes in the near term that will be beneficial.
What are some of Hamline's unique qualities?
It’s small but it’s in an urban setting. The issue with a lot of the larger colleges is that all they are is large student populations. They are also typically in the middle of nowhere. However, Hamline is set in the city and it’s much richer. The urban environment and interaction with professors is unique.