Alumnus, University VP mentors next generation
His mom always said he’d make a good teacher. So, Christopher Washington, ’99 PhD, steered away from the profession — until he could no longer deny he loved teaching. Now executive vice president and provost at both Franklin and Urbana universities, he is shaping students’ lives more than ever.
Q: You came to the college to study human resource development after someone thought you were good at mentoring students.
A: He encouraged me to apply for a master’s program at Western Illinois University. Along with that responsibility came the opportunity to work in student affairs. At Ohio State, I had a graduate assistantship in the residence halls, and I fell in love with the formation and development of students. Being on a college campus and mentoring students in student organizations, I just loved campus life and what it meant.
Q: What makes your job fun?
A: There’s such an opportunity to be creative in higher education. You’re engaging with learners. The tools and technologies continue to change. How do we leverage technology to adapt to the needs of learners? And how do we ensure that the programs we offer respond to changes in society? The creativity around that issue, and the collaboration that we have in meeting those objectives, is really energizing to me.
Q: You lived in residence halls long after most students do. What do you remember from that time?
A: There are social memories like going to Larkins and playing basketball. I was residence hall director (at Morrill and Lincoln towers) while doing my graduate studies, so I continued to stay involved in student affairs. I had a real strong balance of student and academic affairs. My mentor, Ron Jacobs, in the College of Education, taught me how to frame arguments and about research methodologies. (He gave me) a real passion for understanding performance, which to this day has had a dramatic impact on my career.