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USI names Interim Provost and Interim Dean of Pott College

June 8, 2023

The University of Southern Indiana has named Dr. Shelly Blunt, Dean of the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education, as Interim Provost for the University, effective July 1. She will succeed Dr. Mohammed Khayum who is retiring after four years as Provost and 32 years in total with the University. 

“I would like to thank the Provost Search Committee and campus community for the time, effort and thoughtful considerations of the finalists for the Provost position, however, the process did not yield a candidate of choice for USI,” said Ronald S. Rochon, USI President. “With this in mind, I have chosen to move forward in a direction that will ensure continued stability for the University with this appointment.” 

Blunt has a long track record of leadership at the University. She has served as Dean of the Pott College since June and served as the Interim Dean for the College since January 2023. Blunt has also served as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs from 2014 to 2022 and as Associate Dean for the Pott College for six years. She currently serves on the Science Education Foundation of Indiana Board, the Medical Professions Academy Advisory Board and has served on numerous state-wide committees for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  

Blunt is actively involved in STEM education and undergraduate advising, has served as a University Advising Fellow for five years and received the Outstanding Advisor of the Year and the Phenomenal Women of USI awards. Other accomplishments under her leadership include the creation of first year advising centers in each of USI’s academic colleges, the successful implementation of a new general education core, the development of a University-wide first-year seminar class (UNIV 101) and the implementation of state-wide articulation agreements.  

She earned her undergraduate degree at Truman State University and her doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Iowa.  

The University has also named Dr. William Elliott, Jr., Professor of Geology and Associate Dean of the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education, as Interim Dean of the Pott College, effective July 1. 

Elliott became Chair of the Geology, Physics and Environmental Science Department at USI in August 2009. In October 2022, he became Associate Dean of the College. As Chair at USI, he facilitated the development and launch of the environmental science and physics degree programs. Prior to coming to USI, he was faculty member and coordinator of the Geology Program in the Environmental Studies Department at Southern Oregon University.  

He has been part of several collaborative teams at USI to investigate factors impacting graduation rates and student persistence. He is a Co-Principal Investigator on a nearly $150,000 grant led by Dr. Amy Chan-Hilton, Director of Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, to transform STEM Education through the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and his master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from Indiana University. 

The interim appointments are through fall 2024 at which time the University will begin a national search to permanently fill the Provost position. “Our University is on an upward trajectory,” said Rochon. “We have strong support from the state as is evident through our partnerships and recent appropriations, we have amazing faculty and staff who are doing great things for our students and this institution, and we are implementing a number of new processes and tools that will assist us as we continue to serve our students and campus community. We have much to be thankful for, and I am confident these interim appointments will position USI for an ongoing path of success.” 

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