The Spur

Dr. Dwight Watson Named New Provost of SMSU

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Katherine Speiker, Commentary Editor

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Just like the freshmen on campus, Dr. Dwight Watson, campus Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, started at Southwest Minnesota State University for the first time in August. After getting his undergraduate degree of elementary education at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Watson went on to get his master’s degree at the same place.

He went on to get his doctorate at North Carolina State with a focus on curriculum instruction and literacy development. Dr. Watson was a classroom teacher for 15 years before working his way up to 18 years in higher education.

“I feel that I learn best through experiences so I wanted to have a pedigree of experiences,” Dr. Watson said.

Before becoming provost, Dr. Watson’s resume included faculty member, a chair member, a director, an associate dean, and a dean.

“I don’t like to leap frog over experiences because [with] experiences, you get the details you need in order to do the next job,” Dr. Watson said.

The provost on any campus is a service to the president as well as being second to the president.

“If the president is off campus or if the president is ill or on vacation, then I take on the role of leader of the college,” Dr. Watson said.

He also focuses on faculty support as well as student support for the vice president side of his job. Dr. Watson accredits his success to his support circle, whom he contacts at least once a month.

“I have a presidential mentor…a provost mentor…and I also have people who are deans, retired faculty members that I call my circle of support,” Dr. Watson said.

Making SMSU home for Dr. Watson was easy.

“It was really novel for me to never have to go outside. I was connected to all the classrooms,” Dr. Watson said.  “What that told me was that there was a sense of connectivity in the space and that means there’s a sense of closeness, a sense of community, and I was thinking that the students won’t get lost here.

“They’ll have specific touch points along the way and they can feel invested in this institution and they can feel the institution is invested in them. That was really the thing that attracted me to SMSU.”

To get more acclimated to the Marshall area, Dr. Watson enjoys going to local events like concerts, town meetings, and other things in Marshall. He also appreciates the diversity present in the town and on campus.

“I like all the diversity including: the gender diversity, the racial diversity, sexuality diversity, religious diversity, geographical diversity. There’s all these different aspects and I think about the full spectrum of diversity,” Dr. Watson said.

Dr. Watson encourages students to honor and cherish every experience that they have.

“Focus on your knowledge base within the area, focus on your skills that you’re developing, and you have to focus on your dispositional stances,” Dr. Watson said.

Dr. Watson also looks forward to growing with the students here in the years to come. He is excited to learn with the students and expand his portfolio here at SMSU.

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Dr. Dwight Watson Named New Provost of SMSU