Administrative Spotlight: Interim Provost James Mayrose

I'Jaz Eberhardt, Vice President, News Editor

From a tutor to interim provost: James Mayrose has been part of the SUNY Buffalo State community for 13 years and now holds one of the highest positions in the college administration.

As provost, Mayrose is responsible for overseeing everything from student success to faculty research and teaching, curriculum development, implementation of new programs and monitoring the college’s current progress to ensure its future success.

Before his current appointment, he served as a dean, a position he initially began in 2015 before serving as interim CIO and vice president for enrollment in 2017. Last year, President Katherine Conway-Turner asked Mayrose to fill the seat left by former provost Melanie Perreault.

He called his advancement from dean to interim provost a “great experience” and a “logical next step,” but noted some key differences between his current and former roles.

“There are four academic schools plus the graduate school that the provost now oversees and works with those deans and those faculty, so it’s a much larger scale,” he said. “It’s still a transition because I’m working with faculty, staff, students, and other cabinet members.”

Mayrose explained that communication has been key in taking on his new role, both in working with different departments on campus and in operating among other members of the college’s administration, many of who only arrived at Buffalo State within the past year.

“I have been here full time since 2006, so I’ve developed a lot of relationships with a lot of people on campus, but this requires a lot more,” he said. “While you do the day-to-day work, you still have to work towards building those bridges and talking to people, and relationships are the way to solve campus problems.”

Mayrose’s ability to manage various areas of campus operations and to facilitate communication across various areas comes from his diverse background of professional achievements.

He worked in emergency medicine at Erie County Medical Center, owned his own software company and was even an elected official in his hometown of Long Island. His initial interests in engineering, however, was steered by his aspirations of reaching for the stars.

“I wanted to be an astronaut,” Mayrose said. “I did everything I needed to do get there but I didn’t make it; when I say I didn’t make it, I made it all the way to the point where on the physical, my eyes were too bad.”

Mayrose completed his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering, obtained a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and completed biomedical research at ECMC, but he was ultimately forced to move in a new direction that led him into the opposite realm of academia; no longer a student, but a teacher.

He began his career in higher education 19 years ago as an adjunct professor at Buffalo State, the University at Buffalo and Erie Community College and began full-time teaching at Buffalo State by 2006. Mayrose credited his professional success within and outside of academics to education and persistence.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to go into all of these fields and education is what got me there,” he said. “If I didn’t have a Ph.D., I wouldn’t have had the ability to be a full-time faculty member here, so there are a lot of things that I’m glad happened in my life.”

Mayrose’s love for engineering remains strong, however, as evidenced by the F-14 Tomcat aircraft model on his desk (a la Top Gun), the same aircraft he worked on in an aerospace engineering program in Long Island. He also uses his passion to connect with students on campus, specifically the engineering department’s Baja team.

He noted the importance of maintaining contact with the student population, which he admits is not as easy of a feat as his in-class experience as a teacher. Still, he has developed a way to familiarize himself on campus.

“What I try to do at least once a week is, I go over to the Union to have lunch and I will sit with a random group of students,” Mayrose said. “The nice thing is, we’re creatures of habit, so I may have sat down at a few tables and met a few people; I can walk in there now and say hello to a lot of students that maybe I had lunch with them a month ago, but they remember.”

Whether he is building personal relationships or seeking input for future endeavors, Mayrose expressed that he learns through hearing out the ideas of those around him. He believes his desire to create open and productive dialogues will aid him in being as much of an asset to the campus community as he can be.

“The one thing I would want people to know—students, faculty, staff, people outside in the community—that I am here to listen before decisions are made,” he said. “I like to bring as many people and as many perspectives to the table as possible and then take all that into account before making a decision.”

“I don’t care where the next great idea comes from. It doesn’t have to be mine; if there’s a great idea and it can help us, I want to know about it, so I look forward to talking to people, building relationships and hearing what they have to say.”

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