For Northern Illinois native Patricia Poulter, moving to Conway to begin in her new position as provost July 1 was a homecoming of sorts.
“I’m really happy,” she said. “ I have a lot of family in Arkansas. My dad actually was born and raised here and his family, so in a lot of ways it’s like coming home.”
Poulter previously served for five years as the dean of the College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, before becoming provost at UCA. She was inspired to apply not necessarily because she had her sights set on taking on a provost position, but because she wanted to work at UCA, she said. The opening at UCA was the only provost job she applied to.
“It’s not so much about the title, as the opportunity to serve in another capacity,” Poulter said. “It’s an opportunity to serve in a way and at a place and with people that I felt I could make the biggest connection and impact with.”
Poulter has a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in conducting from Eastern Illinois University. After teaching music at public school, she earned a doctorate in music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Since her childhood, music has played a formative role in Poulter’s life. At the age of 4, she started playing piano, and she has fond memories of watching her father play guitar as a small child. Poulter sings and plays the piano, guitar and ukulele, but cites conducting as a primary passion.
“What I love about music is that it expresses things that we can’t express any other way,” she said. “For me personally, music is a way that I experience the world, that I express myself.”
Poulter was the first of her family to graduate from college and said that when she started at Eastern Illinois University, she didn’t even consider graduate school as a possibility for herself. She believes that college can open up a world of possibilities for students.
“The advice I want [every student]to have is that you belong. You have a right to be here, and we’re here to help you succeed,” she said. “Sometimes it gets hard, and you’ll get through it. It’s OK to ask for help …. There are a lot of resources and people here to help you.”
Poulter has two daughters, Corey and Annie, and three grandchildren. She also has a cat named Cleopatra, or Cleo, who she took in as a stray.
Some of her favorite pastimes include iPhone photography, writing, exploring abandoned places, traveling, Geocaching and blogging. On her blog titled The Shadow Photographer, Poulter collects old photographs that capture the shadow of the photographer by accident. She estimates that she has uploaded about 200 of these photographs.
Occasionally, Poulter will dabble in what she jokingly calls “procrasti-creation.” Her latest “procrasti-creative” endeavor was refinishing and reupholstering a dining table set.
Because of her love for the arts and sciences and her explorative spirit, in her free time on campus, Poulter enjoys discovering what UCA has to offer and is looking forward to attending lectures and performances on campus this semester.
“I want to thank every single person I’ve met [at UCA]. Every single person I’ve met has been welcoming and kind and proud to be part of UCA,” Poulter said. “I feel at home already.”
Photo by Lauren Swaim