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Meet Lesley’s New Provost

Over the summer, while many of us were, understandably, preoccupied with coronavirus updates, Lesley University made several institutional changes as staff took on new positions or left the University entirely.  Among the people in new positions is Dr. Jonathan Jefferson.  Once the head of the Business Management division, Dr. Jefferson has now found a new role at Lesley in the Provost’s Office.

Lesley’s previous Provost, Margaret Everett, left the University for a Provost position at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.  In June, after Dr. Jefferson completed his work as the chair of Lesley’s Faculty Assembly, he was chosen to assume the role of Interim Provost, and subsequently, he earned the position of Lesley’s Chief Academic Officer and Provost in July.  In making the announcement, President Janet L. Steinmayer said that Dr. Jefferson “…has strong administrative experience and expertise in organizational management. He will work with me and the Deans… to identify structures that advance the work of the Diversity Advisory Council, build faculty/administration partnership, and position Lesley for the future.”

Recently, Dr. Jefferson sat down with the Lesley Public Post to talk about his various roles at Lesley, this unique transition period, and how he plans to proceed as Provost.

LPP: When did you take over the Business Management program at Lesley?

Dr. Jefferson: I began working at Lesley in July of 2015 as the Division Director for Business Management.

LPP: I’ve heard that you were initially brought into Lesley to expand our Business Management program. Would you say you were successful at that?

Dr. Jefferson: The Business Management program is very different from the program prior to 2016.  The program includes more experiential learning [obtained] through the Lesley Management Development Experience and additional training in business analytics, which is a business skill that is highly sought after. Students get a comprehensive education in the common professional courses that are expected of all business graduates. We have also added new specializations/minors in Brand Design and Marketing, Sports Marketing and Management, and Organizational Leadership.

LPP: What are some of your proudest accomplishments within the Business Management program?

Dr. Jefferson: Getting the undergraduate Business Management program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs is one of my proudest accomplishments. As important is launching the Master of Science in Management degree and now the 4+1 Master of Business Administration accelerated degree program.

LPP: You were appointed as Interim Provost, then took over completely after former Provost Everett left the University, correct?

Dr. Jefferson: Yes, I was appointed Interim Provost in June.  I became the Chief Academic Officer and Provost at the end of July.

LPP: What was that transition period like for you?

Dr. Jefferson: The transition is going well. I am used to leading large organizations. Having been a faculty member, Director, Division Chair, and a Dean has helped me tremendously. I also spent over twenty years as an international management consultant and a corporate executive.

LPP: How will your “typical” Provost duties look differently in a virtual setting? Will anything about your role be changing for the time being?

Dr. Jefferson: My typical duties have not changed in the virtual environment.  The only thing that has changed is that all of my meetings are either in Zoom or Teams.

LPP: I notice that one of your areas of expertise is mentoring. Speaking of that, do you intend to stay in close contact with your Business Management students, even in your new role?

Dr. Jefferson: I relish opportunities to work with students. As Provost, I am more removed from the classroom but business management is an important area to me.  I plan to continue to help the division as it is appropriate.

LPP: What will your role, if any, be in the Business Management program going forward? Are you leaving it behind completely or taking on a reduced role?

Dr. Jefferson: Dr. Ingrid Johnston, Associate Dean, CLAS is the Interim Division Director for the business management division.  I assist her as she needs me throughout this transition.  I will no longer lead or management the business management division

LPP: This is a pivotal moment of change for all of us at the University, between the coronavirus and the civil unrest resulting from the senseless police brutality directed against George Floyd, Breonna Tyler, Jacob Blake, and countless other Black individuals. How do you plan to use the platform of your new position to listen to students and staff, amplify their voices, and ensure that all Lesley community members feel equally protected, seen, and heard?

Dr. Jefferson: I am working with all the schools and Threshold to implement ways for Lesley to train faculty in inclusive, anti-racist, and culturally sustaining pedagogy.

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