As Wordle has taught us, change is constant and challenging. Thankfully, Dr. Chris Plouff, the new Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Indianapolis, maintains an impressive winning streak.
“I’ve at least gotten the word in all but three days over the last four months,” Dr. Plouff said. “And I play it every day. I get up in the morning, check my email, and then do Wordle.”
Dr. Plouff’s love for puzzles like Wordle is a part of his “nerdy” side, a.k.a, his engineering side.
Dr. Plouff earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental engineering from Michigan Tech University. He received his license as a professional engineer in Michigan and practiced for several years, but found that his passion was in educating others and helping them to develop their understanding of engineering. When a position opened up at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), he took the leap and applied.
“I hadn’t worked in an educational environment before to know that was what I was going to like or want to do, but I just fell in love with it,” Dr. Plouff said. “I knew right away that I’d found what I was meant to do and that was working with students and learning environments. I knew that I had made the right decision and there was no looking back.”
Dr. Plouff took on various roles during his 25 years at GVSU, including working in the Division of Student Affairs, teaching and earning tenure in the School of Engineering, chairing the Product Design & Manufacturing Engineering program, and serving as interim director of the School of Engineering, before moving to the Office of the Provost six years ago. As an Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, he headed up accreditation, assessment and strategic planning activities for the University. This past year he served as the Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Leaving GVSU after 25 years was certainly a difficult decision, but Dr. Plouff found UIndy to be too good of a fit to pass on.
“UIndy is very aligned with my own personal values and my approach to education,” Dr. Plouff said. “It’s very student-centered. It is embedded deeply within the local and regional community, and has strong academic programs. The faculty and staff that I’ve been able to meet are exceptional. I really feel that the institution is an exemplar in higher education, and is a place where I will fit in and can be a part of its growth and advancement.”
As Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Plouff will be involved in all aspects of academic affairs on campus. He will work with leadership across the University to ensure that UIndy has both the right portfolio of programs and that those programs are successful in delivering the learning outcomes that students need to be fulfilled and successful in their lives and careers.
Dr. Plouff is looking forward to getting to know UIndy better and applying lessons learned from the pandemic to move UIndy into the future.
“A lot of changes happened during COVID,” Dr. Plouff explained. “Now, there’s much more knowledge about, and interest in, hybrid-type programs. By reviewing where online and hybrid options can help us meet students where they’re at, we can enhance our core work with in-person, student-centered education. We can engage a broader and more diverse set of students and backgrounds. I’m looking forward to investigating that further and seeing where we can identify opportunities for looking at new types of credentials that will benefit our students.”
One area Dr. Plouff looks forward to building upon at UIndy is experiential learning. Dr. Plouff is excited by the number of opportunities Indianapolis provides for UIndy students to get real-world experience and plans to continue growing those opportunities.
“I’m always exploring ways to expand or improve the work that we’re doing with experiential education,” Dr. Plouff explained. “I think it’s a great learning model, and I know from my own experience that students are passionate about it as well. It helps them really discern what they want to do and how they want to apply the ideas and concepts they’re learning.”
Dr. Plouff is also looking forward to becoming an Indiana sports fan. Fortunately he’s already a fan of our state’s favorite pastime, having played basketball through high school.
“I enjoy participating in and watching sports,” Dr. Plouff revealed. “As you can probably imagine, a lot of it to this point has been focused on Michigan-based sports, but I’m looking forward to learning the Indiana sports teams – especially our strong UIndy teams. I’ve always enjoyed going to games. I enjoy all kinds of sports, but especially football, basketball and baseball.”
When Dr. Plouff isn’t busy helping UIndy’s academic programs be the best that they can be, you can be sure to find him outdoors, whether that be fishing, kayaking or walking his rescue dog, Lily, around campus with his wife, Janis. He is also exceptionally proud of his two young adult children, Sam (daughter) and Alex (son).