James H. McDonald started his work as provost on campus on July 1. Photo courtesy of University Relations.
Walking across campus at the beginning of a new semester you can expect to see a lot of unfamiliar faces. This year, one new face stands out from the rest.
Dr. James McDonald is the newest addition to the University’s administrative faculty, stepping into the role of provost and vice president of academic affairs. Before coming to Montevallo, he was part of the faculty at Southern Utah University, working as both the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and as a professor of anthropology, a field he is very passionate about.
Having received his undergraduate degree in anthropology, he’s accomplished a lot in his field, his studies even taking him to South America. In Mexico, he worked with rural farmers and observed how they were handling the changes to their lives due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and in Guatemala he did field work dealing with substantial development.
As the provost, all things academic are under his leadership and management. So, during his time at Montevallo, Dr. McDonald wants to make himself as available and accessible as possible to students.
“In many ways [students] are my teacher,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out how students are engaging with the institution and all we’ve got to offer and that will help me understand much better how we can continue to evolve and improve the institution and what we do and how we do it.”
One of the main things that attracted him to the University was its “student-centric” culture.
“I loved the vibe here. I loved the level of engagement, of interest. You clearly have a deeply committed faculty and staff. People are excited about what they do and how they do it.”
In a statement, President Stewart expressed his excitement about Dr. McDonald joining the faculty. “His arrival comes at a good time of change and opportunity in higher education and we look forward to him as chief academic officer of Montevallo.”
Throughout the year, students can expect to find him in the caf having lunch, biking around town, walking his dogs on campus or maybe even paddling along in a canoe on the lake.