Jan 282010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Before Valerie Hardcastle entered the world of academia, she was an amateur bodybuilder.

“I still pump iron,” Hardcastle, one of the three final provost candidates, said Thursday sitting in the University Club.
She started lifting when she was 18 and competed in triathlons up until a recent hip injury, but said if you hit the gym early enough you’ll see her there.

“I keep hoping I’ll wait it out and then be able to compete again,” Hardcastle said, adding that her favorite type of music is from another era.
“I’m a big 80’s fan. The Eurythmics, the Talking Heads.”

Hardcastle got her undergraduate degree at Berkley and her Ph.D. at the University of California at San Diego and said her favorite thing about the West that you don’t find in Cincinnati is “big sky, big blue sky.”

As dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati, Hardcastle said, she has a casual outlook on her job and her door is always open to students, faculty and staff. She said she plans to bring that same transparency to CSU if she gets the job.

“You just have to be approachable,” Hardcastle said. “ But, I don’t do Facebook or Twitter. I do a lot of e-mailing.”

If she were hired as the university’s No. 2 leader, Hardcastle would oversee all the academic initiatives on campus, serve on both CSU President Tony Frank’s Cabinet and the Faculty Council and chair the Council of Deans.

Her three core values include:
Faculty, staff and student partnerships,
Collaborating instead of competing, and
Shared governance.

A fellow dean at UC, Elizabeth King, said she has been working closely with Hardcastle for two-and-a-half years and said she would be missed.
“She speaks her mind, she’s assertive and you know where you stand with her at all times,” King said. “You always know her position on controversial issues.”

The Collegian contacted most of the UC’s deans, but only King was available for comment.

Diversifying its resource base and being aware of what revenues the university brings –– and what it doesn’t –– is key for CSU to cope with the challenges of cuts to higher education funding, Hardcastle said in an e-mail previous to her arrival on campus Thursday.
The idea is to “plan very long term,” Hardcastle said, “… and do not be afraid to think like a private institution, even though CSU very clearly isn’t one and shouldn’t be one.”

It is necessary, too, to sell Colorado voters on the idea of higher education, she said, and up until this point, “we in the business of higher education have done an incredibly bad job at convincing people of our fundamental importance.”
Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com._

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