Feb 20th, 2018, 05:20 PM

Dr. Hank Kreuzman

By Leona Caanen
Image Credit: Leona Caanen / Hank's favorite spot in the office: his vision board.
A bitter-sweet goodbye to our interim provost.

Over the past few years, the American University of Paris has had numerous provosts, yet none have been quite as memorable as Dr. Henry Kreuzman. Hank, as he is known by faculty, staff and students alike, was recruited by President Celeste Schenck as our last interim provost before AUP welcomes Dr. William Fisher to a permanent position this coming Fall. 

He's become a familiar figure around campus but, for many of us, the role of a provost remains a mystery. What exactly does Hank do? According to the Merriam Webster definition, the position of the provost is "a high-ranking university administrative officer." According to Hank, the simplest way to describe his position is "Chief Academic Officer."

"The provost is ultimately responsible for the academic mission of the institution," says Hank. "That means that the provost is there to ensure that every class a student takes at AUP is as good as it can be. The provost has to make sure that all the faculty who teach those classes are up to date on their pedagogical methods and in the knowledge of their field. It is a huge task, but it is a very exciting task." Hank leads the Office of Academic Affairs, which works closely with the chairs of the different departments at AUP. He has also collaborated closely with Marc Montheard, the Vice President and Dean of Student Services, as well as with Kevin Fore, the Dean of Student Development.

Hank's impressive academic background made him the ideal fit for AUP and transitioning to Paris was not too much of a challenge. After having spent the past 26 years at the College of Wooster in Ohio, the similarity in the values and sizes of the two communities allowed for a quick integration.

"Small universities have a very similar feel to them, in the sense that the faculty in those institutions are very committed to teaching, and are very engaged with the students. So in that aspect, my experience at AUP and at Wooster have been very similar," says Hank. "The faculty and the staff are very interested in trying to figure out how to make things new, better, and improved, and how to give the students a better experience. That is an exciting environment to live and work in."

Provost Hank Kreuzman (right) looks at the layout for the newest AUP building, together with students Fernanda Sapina, Stuart Edwards, and Sabrina Scholkowski. Image Credit: The American University of Paris

There have been two drawbacks to Hank's packed schedule at AUP. He hasn't been able to learn as much French as he'd have liked; a struggle many students can relate to. After a work day speaking English, Hank tries to practice his French during nights out with his wife and friends, yet it has not been as successful as he had hoped. Hank would also have liked to find more time to interact with the students. 

"I started out teaching philosophy at the University of Notre Dame while in graduate school and then I went on to teach English in China." Hank also taught for eight years at the College of Wooster before moving up the ranks.

This is not the first time that Hank has lived abroad for a long period of time. During his time at Wooster, Hank took two sabbaticals. His first took him to Shiyan, China. "I enjoyed living in China a lot. I lived there with my wife in a fairly remote but large city from 1987-88. Shiyan was the center of the automobile and truck production in China at the time, and so it was a really exciting opportunity to be in China right at the beginning of its opening up to the West; both in terms of bringing in tourists, as well as building partnerships with US corporations. It was really a dynamic period to see the changes in China."

His second sabbatical took him to Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2000-01. "Going to Scotland was a really great opportunity. The nice thing about it was that I did not have any teaching responsibilities. All I had to do that year was to engage with my colleagues at the department and do my research." Paris was Hank's next adventure abroad, yet of the three, he has no favorites. "Each country is different and they all have their own interesting nuances."

A fraction of Hank's rock collection. Image Credit: Leona Caanen

It was during his first sabbatical that Hank started a rock collection; although he didn't know at the time how large the collection would become. 

"Wudang Mountain. That was the first trip on which I ever collected a rock. I was climbing to the top where there was a Buddhist Temple and a monastery. For some reason I thought I’d never be going back to this mountain and so I wanted take a little memory with me. So I picked up two rocks and then, over the years, it became something that I did when I traveled." Everywhere Hank goes, he tries to bring a rock back. On his trip to India with a group of students, Hank forgot to bring back a rock. "When I told one of my students the story and he went home to India for the break, he brought me back this rock from his home town in India, so it's kind of a special rock."

Hank has always been very connected with his students, thanks to his teaching in political philosophy and philosophy of law. While at AUP, Hank has not had the opportunity to teach any students in a classroom setting, but he is still just as eager for their input. "I interact with students less in my current role than I have in my previous roles and I'm not in a classroom, but the students I do interact with are really incredibly engaging people. They are inquisitive; they are committed to growing both in their academic, and their professional and personal lives. It's really exciting to work with students who are like that."

Image Credit: The American University of Paris

As well as being impressed by AUP students, Hank has also acquired a great appreciation and respect for his co-workers. "Among the faculty colleagues I have got to know here, I feel like I now have lifelong friends. I respect their scholarship but I respect also them as colleagues and friends in a deep sense. When you ask what I’ll take away with me, I guess that is it: friends on the faculty and staff. I have a deep appreciation for how committed they are to the students, and their respect for the students and, really, just their love for the institution. It is a deep privilege to serve an institution like this."

As Hank will be leaving AUP in August, the question is what next? And where next? Not quite ready to leave Europe, Hank and his wife will be moving to England, where they will be only a train ride away from AUP.

"After I finish at AUP, I will have a year's sabbatical. I was planning on having a sabbatical this year when Celeste contacted me about this post, and so I delayed it." Hank and his wife will make the most of his sabbatical to do some more traveling. "We are planning to do the traveling that we have delayed for a long time. We have not been back to China since we left in 1988 so we would like to go back there and see our former students and former institution."

As Hank packs up his suitcases and adds some new French rocks to his collection, he can look back at AUP and feel proud. "If I have to say anything, it is 'Thank You.' It's an incredible honor when an institution invites you in and trusts you with a significant leadership role for a year."

On behalf of AUP, the honor was ours. Thanks Hank!