By: STEPHEN M. SALISBURY
As far as Interim Chancellor Jann Joseph is concerned, her job is exactly the same as if she were the permanent Chancellor.
“I don’t see my job as an Interim as being any different from how I would do it if I were in the permanent position,” Joseph said.
While she acknowledged that any transitional period for a university can have its challenges, because of the fact that she has been a part of this campus community for nearly five years, she doesn’t believe that her move into the Interim Chancellor chair from her previous role as Executive Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs has had any negative impact, particularly on students.
When asked directly if she was a candidate for the permanent position as the next Chancellor, she stated, “I have applied for the job.”
The financial health of the university is always a top priority for the administration. The annual budget falls under the purview of the Chancellor.
Enrollment numbers tend to have the most direct impact on the budget and while those numbers were down this year, she stated that the budget was kept.
“During this summer, as I was transitioning, we made some adjustments to the budget….and because we made some of those more difficult adjustments up front, our budget is actually on track this year. Last year at this time, we were behind, but we made tough decisions in the spring and having done so, we are on track for the budget,” said Joseph.
When it comes to enrollment Joseph is optimistic due to the strategic initiatives the university has pursued to not only attract new students, but to aggressively encourage them to commit to IU South Bend.
“From where I sit right now, I expect fall’s class next year to be equal to at least the same level as we did this year, and I would be optimistic and say we could increase the incoming class next year,” she stated.
Joseph came to the U.S. with her husband, the late Edwin Joseph and her three small children from Trinidad 26 years ago to pursue post-graduate studies.
She brings the perspective of an immigrant to the current political climate.
“One of the biggest mistakes and questions that people often ask of immigrants is always seemingly linked to our loyalty to America, and you will not find more loyal Americans than naturalized Americans,” said Joseph.
When it comes to those who have not had as fortunate a transition to American citizenship as she and her family had, referring mainly to Deferred Action for Childhood Enrollment (DACA) students and children who were born here to parents who were here illegally, Joseph stated that “We have all made choices for our children that they had no control over. They live those choices we made for them and they should not be punished for the choices we made for them.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Joseph encourages students.
“Engage, connect, reach out, ask for help, offer help. I think as a campus community, we recognize that we are stronger together,” she said.
Joseph offered up her own experiences from before she took the Interim Chancellor position.
“There are people here who care and it starts at the top. There is a human being in this chair. A person who understands. I had two children as an undergrad. I didn’t go to a movie for ten years because I couldn’t afford it. I ate Ramen noodles. I think it is important that they understand that we share their struggles. Many of us have walked the walk. Many of us didn’t have privilege and we will understand. We respect their right as fellow human beings to be successful in the world,” she said.