Academic affairs office prepares for transition

After three years as Missouri Southern’s vice president of academic affairs and provost, Dr. Pat Lipira is stepping down. As announced March 30, filling her shoes will be Dr. Paula Carson, who officially takes the reins on July 1.

“I’m just thrilled that [the search committee] picked Dr. Paula Carson,” said Lipira of her successor. “She’s had roles in a variety of areas on a campus and I think that’s helpful at Missouri Southern. We were looking for a good fit [for the University], and I think we found one.”

Carson, who graduated from Loyola University of the South in New Orleans, La., with a bachelor’s in business administration degree in 1987, served at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette since 1991, and served as their assistant vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness since 2007. She also served as special assistant to the provost and vice president for academic affairs and dean of the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration during her time at Lafayette.

“I hope that [Carson] will be able to bring some stability to the academic affairs office,” said Michael Garoutte, co-chair of the provost search committee. “I think Dr. Lipira has taken a lot of steps toward that direction and really gotten that office organized, and I think that Dr. Carson will continue that.”

Despite her coming departure, Lipira still plans to work with Carson as much as she can before officially leaving June 30. While the particulars of their transition have yet to be figured out, Lipira’s goal is to help prepare Carson for the position at Southern and make sure she hits the ground running when she officially takes over.

“I think we both agree it would be valuable for us,” said Lipira. “I don’t want her to come in just blindsided by everything. There’s a lot going on on the academic side, and I just want her to be up to speed.”

Though Lipira is not yet sure what she will do after retiring from Southern, she is content with the notion of not having anything planned for the moment.

“I’m just leaving my options open and keeping a little flexibility depending on where I need to be,” said Lipira. “If something comes up that I want to do, I want to be able to do it.

“I’m pleased that I got these three years in this position. It worked out well. It just seems like the right time [to move on.]”