New MTSU vice provost has eye on students’ success...

New MTSU vice provost has eye on students’ success

MTSU will welcome a new vice provost in September in a job with a singular focus: ensuring the academic success of the university’s students.

Dr. Richard “Rick” Sluder, who currently serves as vice provost for recruitment and outreach at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, will join MTSU’s family Sept. 15 after helping UCM increase its enrollment and leading its initiative to improve student retention and graduation rates.

Dr. Richard Sluder

Dr. Richard Sluder

“Working collaboratively with faculty, staff and students, I am fully committed to doing everything possible to facilitate the success of MTSU students,” Sluder said this week.

“MTSU is an exceptional institution with strong faculty, committed staff and a vibrant campus environment. I look forward to beginning my work, knowing that we can further enhance student persistence and completion rates.”

MTSU launched its “Quest for Student Success” initiative in October 2013, creating extensive reforms aimed at helping its almost 24,000-plus students stay on track academically and complete their degrees. The university’s ultimate goal is to boost the current 52 percent graduation rate to at least 62 percent by 2020.

The MTSU effort works in conjunction with Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” goal to extend the reach of higher education and includes a top-to-bottom review of university operations as well as campuswide town hall meetings to gather even more ideas for student success.

Dr. Brad Bartel

Part of MTSU’s plan includes establishing the new vice provost’s post to provide leadership, vision and strategic planning for student retention and success. The job “will be particularly focused on creating a learning environment where high expectations for student learning are linked to a[n] … effective system of academic support initiatives.”

“We are excited about Dr. Sluder joining the MTSU family,” said University Provost Brad Bartel. “He brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge about student success issues and a proven track record of accomplishments.”

MTSU’s student success initiative concentrates on:

  • stepping up recruitment of students with greater potential to succeed at a four-year comprehensive university.
  • enhancing students’ academic experience to better ensure their success, including on-campus and online tutoring, more advising and an emphasis on more “high-tech and high-touch” approaches.
  • using more innovative, proven techniques, to help students flourish.

While in the vice provost’s office at UCM, Sluder also was part of a campus effort to establish the Office of Military and Veterans Services to accommodate student veterans and worked to strengthen its partnerships with community colleges, both of which have been high-priority efforts at MTSU. He also served as dean of UCM’s College of Health and Human Services as well as a professor of criminal justice there since 1992.

Sluder earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice from Truman State University and Sam Houston State University, respectively, and a master’s degree in human resources management from Truman State. He also worked his way through the ranks of the Adams County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Department, rising to captain and administrator of the adult detention facility there before moving into academia.

“It’s important to note Rick’s strong leadership in building enrollment at UCM, which has climbed to nearly 13,000 students,” said Jeff Murphy, assistant director of university relations at UCM. “Rick is a great problem solver and a versatile educator. MTSU has made an outstanding choice in hiring Rick Sluder, and he will be greatly missed at UCM.”

For more information about MTSU’s Quest for Student Success, go to can watch a video report on last spring’s town hall meetings on student success below.

— Gina E. Fann (