Heritage: Summer 2021

Provost Michael Stephenson posing on the SHSU campus.

Charting a Path Forward

Hail to the Chief...Academic Officer
Meet SHSU’s New Provost, Michael T. Stephenson

In July, Michael T. Stephenson was welcomed as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University.

Stephenson most recently served as the vice provost for academic affairs and strategic initiatives at Texas A&M University. In this position, he had oversight for student success initiatives, strategic planning, accreditation and academic innovation.

Bringing valuable experience that directly aligns with SHSU’s priorities, Stephenson is committed to working closely with members of the campus community to build a shared vision of academic excellence.

“It is crystal clear to me that, at its core, SHSU focuses heavily on the success of its students,” he said. “While academic success is clearly foundational to what we do, the university is heavily invested in the value provided through co-curricular activities, high-impact activities, emotional and mental health, financial preparation, career readiness and so much more. The staff and faculty really care about their students and their dedication is truly admirable.”

Stephenson considers his experiences with first-generation students to be some of the most treasured and transformative moments of his academic career.

“Those memories are deeply meaningful and there is nothing quite as exciting as shaking a first-generation student’s hand when they cross the stage at commencement,” he said. “First-gen students bring a rich perspective to the classroom from which everyone benefits.”

We also need to engage with those in the region and state who employ the students we graduate and chart a path forward together. Michael T. Stephenson

Looking ahead, he believes building and nurturing relationships are essential to the university’s progress.

“The relational piece is absolutely critical for us to move forward. I want those on campus to believe in what we are working on collectively as an academic community,” he said. “We also need to engage with those in the region and state who employ the students we graduate and chart a path forward together.”

In terms of specific goals, SHSU’s new provost is laser focused on increasing retention and graduation rates.

“I’d like us to be strategic in how we pursue those goals. Additionally, while we are already incredibly competitive in the online space, we have an opportunity to be competitive in providing stackable credentials to meet the constant need for professional and career development. And, the success of our faculty is also essential. We hire some amazing faculty and I need to do everything I can to help them be successful.”