As she settles into her new office, Hilton Hallock shares her background in higher education, thoughts on her new positions and the university’s future.
Prior to accepting the Provost position, Hilton Hallock was the the Chief Strategy and Accreditation Officer, a role that had her working on strategic planning, enrollment management, new program development, our accreditation review for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and other approvals needed to add or change programs. Now she will lead APU into its next phases of development.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I went to college at the University of Virginia; my BA is in Interdisciplinary Studies, but much of my coursework was in government and non-profit management. I have an MEd from the University of Vermont in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration, a CAS in Social Movement and Conflict Studies from Syracuse University, and a PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse. All my degrees are interdisciplinary!
What did you do prior to APU?
I have worked in higher education my whole career, serving as an administrator, faculty member, and consultant.
What’s your fondest memory from school?
I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a number of different service-learning and study away programs. I was a program director for volunteer organization in college and worked with a group of students who were really committed to supporting the local community, addressing critical social issues, and giving back in positive ways. I’ve built on that experience in leading service-learning and study trips to Appalachia, the Sea Islands of South Carolina, and South Africa.
When you were a college student, who was the most influential person in your life?
My family has always been the most influential people in my life. In college, I also had good mentors who introduced me to the field of higher education administration and modeled principled, engaged, learning-centered leadership.
How do you think your prior experiences will lend themselves to your new position?
The Provost position integrates academic affairs, student affairs, and enrollment management and I have worked in all of those areas. I think that helps me think about how learning happens inside and outside the classroom and how spaces, policies, curriculum, and a supportive community all contribute to learning. I’ve had a lot of experience developing new programs so I have an understanding of all the components that go into that process—curriculum development, market analyses, accreditation, recruitment, and so on. On a practical level, having been a vice president of a small college, I’m used to juggling the big picture and the details.
What is your leadership philosophy?
I think of my work as building capacity in people and organizations. Part of that is working collaboratively with members of the campus community to create environments where people can do their best work. That may be by teaching and mentoring, fixing organizational barriers, crafting policies or procedures that make sense, raising money, creating partnerships with other organizations, or hiring great people.
What are some of your first orders of business?
I look forward to meeting with students to learn more about their experiences at APU and their hopes for the school. I also plan to meet with the Institutes and other departments to gather ideas, and even though I’ve been here a year, I have a lot to learn about the curriculum and academic procedures at APU. Fortunately, I have some time to work with Beth Sullivan, the Academic Dean, before she retires, and I have a long list of questions!
What are your goals for your first year?
Our new Strategic Plan sets out several priorities. We will be launching several new academic programs in healthcare and management this fall, and a few more programs are in development. We’ll be exploring ways to support community engagement by students, faculty and staff as well as ways to create a campus environment that respects, centers, and celebrates Indigenous knowledge and cultures. We’ve been working hard this year to get the word out about APU, raising our profile in the community and reconnecting with alumni and other friends of the University, and this transition is a good opportunity for me to get out in the community to tell APU’s story. I’m also working with the President’s Office, the Office of Institutional Advancement and several faculty and staff members on some grant applications that would fund additional student support services, facility improvements, and curriculum development.
What are your thoughts on balancing growth with maintaining quality?
We are moving quickly, but the planning has been thoughtful and strategic. We have to ask, “Does it fit with our mission and strategic vision?” and “Can we be really good at it?” We have opportunities to leverage APU’s strengths in student-centered, experiential learning as well as our partnerships with community organizations and our diverse course delivery options. Growing will help us maintain quality because with more students and programs, we will have more resources to invest in diverse educational programs.
You seem to work a lot. Do you have free time and what do you do with it?
I’ve loved exploring the trails around Anchorage. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can take a quick walk. If I have more time, I enjoy traveling, and I look forward to visiting more of Alaska. I was given a subscription to Acorn TV (British tv) last year so I can travel virtually.
What are some of the last few books you’ve read? Movies you’ve watched?
I usually have several books and audiobooks going at once. Recently, I’ve been reading Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions, some graduation inspiration by Jim Ryan (the incoming president of UVA), Give or Take a Century by Joe Senungetuk (our Elder Artist-in-Residence), and A Fine and Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow (Alaska mystery writer)I’ve done some movie binge watching on planes lately–“Coco,” “Spotlight,” “Lady Bird.”
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I taught canoeing and kayaking as a camp counselor.
What are you most excited about for this job?
This is a really exciting time to be at APU! We are building a distinctive institution that will address issues that are important to Alaska and the world and that will make education more accessible, academic programs even more innovative, and student achievement more attainable.