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Neil J. MacKinnon, PhD, center, Augusta University provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, has announced the new Provost Faculty Fellows, Vahé Heboyan, PhD, left, and Candis Bond, PhD. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

MacKinnon names newest provost fellows at Augusta University

Augusta University’s Provost Faculty Fellowship is designed to provide eligible faculty members with leadership and administrative experiences to prepare a pipeline of future academic administrators and leaders at the university.

After what Neil MacKinnon, PhD, has called a successful first year of the program, he is proud to announce Candis Bond, PhD, and Vahé Heboyan, PhD, have been selected as the next provost faculty fellows, to serve June 1 through May 31, 2024.

“Drs. Bond and Heboyan each bring valuable skills and university experience to the program. From the launch of the new School of Public Health to the implementation of our new university strategic plan, we have plenty of interesting projects for them,” MacKinnon said. “I have to give a special shoutout to Drs. Vishal Arora and Amy Abdulovic-Cui, the inaugural two Provost Faculty Fellows, for taking a risk and being in the first cohort. To put it simply, they have excelled and demonstrated the value of the program.”

Read more: Augusta University to launch new School of Public Health

The one-year fellowship is primarily project-based, with the Provost Operations Management Team (POMT) proposing several potential projects and the fellow and provost choosing two to three for the fellow to lead. The fellow will also attend POMT meetings, the POMT huddle and other administrative meetings.

Heboyan is an associate professor and interim chief for the Health Economics and Policy Division in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Medical College of Georgia. He was prompted to apply for the program because he feels university faculty “play a substantial role in educating the next generation and contributing to scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow.”

“I always believed that a more substantial and longer lasting change comes through leadership and advocacy of policies, programs and strategies that are reflective of reality and will move our institution and higher education forward to benefit the students and scientific advancement,” said Heboyan, who has been at AU since 2014. “Several years ago, my interest expanded into pursuing leadership opportunities beyond my traditional faculty role to identify and design experiences to foster innovation and creativity into student learning and scholarly pursuit.”

Among those pursuits include: designing the Certificate in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship; co-founding and co-leading the Innovate competition, which is designed to foster student discovery through creative ideas; designing the Global Health study abroad program; and receiving in 2016, jointly with, an RWJF grant to create a mesh network of innovation for public health in Georgia. Heboyan has also been involved in the community, collaborating with the local Department of Public Health to study their policy and program impacts on local population health as well as collaborating with local organizations to promote local startup businesses.

Bond has been at AU since 2016 and is director of the Center for Writing Excellence and an associate professor of English. She said her commitment to students, appreciation for faculty labor, and her value of higher education as a life-changing institution led to her application.

Read more: Center for Writing Excellence moves to new location, expands services

“I am a first-generation college student and, put simply, higher education has transformed my life,” she said. “It has given me the tools I needed to pursue my vocation, something I don’t take for granted because no one else in my family has been able to pursue intellectually stimulating work that they love.

“My educational experience was made possible by the many faculty and administrative mentors who took time to support me. These mentors created environments where I felt empowered to learn and contribute to the scholarly conversation, and they provided opportunities for me to grow, be curious, and be challenged.

“In the future, I hope to pursue university administrative roles where I can give back to students and faculty the way others have done for me in the past,” Bond added. “I want all students to have access to a life-changing education that helps them meet their goals, and I want all faculty to be valued and have labor conditions that enable them to provide this kind of education. This fellowship offers preparation and skill-building that I hope opens new doors for me to participate in projects that will contribute to student success and faculty excellence. On a more personal level, I enjoy challenges, puzzles, and strategizing, and I think this fellowship will stretch me to develop my problem-solving skills.”

MacKinnon is excited about the upcoming fellowship and working with Bond and Heboyan.

“While I have only been at AU for two years, I have had many opportunities to interact with Drs. Bond and Heboyan, as both are involved in a variety of initiatives across the university and have already proven themselves as leaders,” he said. “Dr. Bond is the first Provost Faculty Fellow from Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, while Dr. Heboyan will be one of the inaugural faculty members in the new School of Public Health.”

Bond said the Center for Writing Excellence is a university-wide unit that serves all AU students, faculty, and staff across disciplines with the aim of increasing research productivity and improving writing and speaking skills .To serve all writers and speakers well, she said they need to understand their goals and needs and be aware of opportunities for collaboration.

“This fellowship will allow me to learn more about the many exciting programs and initiatives going on across the university and why these matter to various stakeholders. Having this insight is critical for brainstorming and implementing new programming with my team in the CWE that can help the university bring its mission and vision to fruition,” she said. “This insight is something I will also share with my home department of English and World Languages and the faculty and leadership of Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. There is the potential for creativity and innovation when our colleges and departments work together.

“I’m also looking forward to learning more about what makes a university run smoothly and how strong leaders motivate their teams and get them excited to work toward shared goals. I’m going into this fellowship knowing how much I don’t know and how much I have to learn. I’m humbled to have this opportunity to work with the Provost and his team to grow, gain knowledge, and develop valuable new skills.”

Heboyan believes the Provost Faculty Fellow program will give him a broader view and understanding of the university operations which will enable him to be a more effective leader in the future.

“About a year ago I assumed the role of the interim division chief at the Health Economics and Policy Division at the Department of Population Health Sciences at MCG. When I assumed the role, I was the only full-time division faculty. My vision for the division was/is to grow it into meeting the demands of the emerging field of health economics and policy analysis through research, consulting, and education.

“As my department/division moves to the newly formed School of Public Health, I expect to use skills and experiences I gain in this program to better position the division for a success.”

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Written by
Miguelangelo Hernandez

Miguelangelo Hernandez is a senior communications and media coordinator at Augusta University. You can reach him at or (706) 993-6411.

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man smiling Written by Miguelangelo Hernandez

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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