Two men and a woman
Neil J. MacKinnon, PhD, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, center, stands with Dr. Vishal Arora, left, and Dr. Amy Abdulovic-Cui, who are the inaugural provost faculty fellows. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

Two faculty members named inaugural provost fellows

Drs. Vishal Arora and Amy Abdulovic-Cui will be the first two provost faculty fellows, Dr. Neil MacKinnon has announced.

The Provost Faculty Fellowship is designed to provide eligible Augusta University faculty members with leadership and administrative experiences to prepare a pipeline of future academic administrators and leaders at the university. Arora and Abdulovic-Cui will work with Provost MacKinnon and the Provost Operations Management Team.

MacKinnon said both inaugural fellows will be actively involved in university-wide projects related to academic affairs and will gain an inside perspective of the operations of the Provost’s Office. It is his hope that this experience will prepare them for future academic leadership positions at Augusta University.

“Drs. Arora and Abdulovic-Cui have both demonstrated leadership within their colleges and in the university, so I know they are entering the fellowship with an advanced skill set and a proven track record of collaboration and service,” MacKinnon said. “Dr. Arora brings the perspective of a clinician leader and an active health professional, while Dr. Abdulovic-Cui brings the perspective of working closely with undergraduate students.”

Abdulovic-Cui, who has been with the university since 2011, is a tenured associate professor within the College of Science and Mathematics and is the co-director of its master’s program in biomolecular science. She said after her experiences leading multiple committees and working as a part-time administrator as both assistant chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and the graduate program co-director, she discovered she liked working with others to make improvements to Augusta University.

“The fellowship will allow me opportunities to grow as a leader and also allow me a chance to gain experience in administration that will help me accomplish my future goals,” said Abdulovic-Cui, who mentioned that her plan is to someday be a department chair with an ultimate goal of being a dean.

“A colleague first sent me the Jagwire article announcing the fellowship, and as I read the announcement explaining the fellowship and what it would entail, it sounded like a program that was custom-made for me and my goals. This fellowship will allow me to work with the university leadership on important projects, gaining priceless experience, and still working within the department I love.”

Arora, who has been on faculty for 14 years, is a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology and program director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship. He completed medical school training, an internal medicine residency, and a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine all at the Medical College of Georgia. After obtaining advanced training in interventional cardiology at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he returned to Augusta University.

He recently completed an MBA at the Hull College of Business, and mentioned the field of study opened his eyes to an area of the university he’d not been involved with previously.

“It sparked my thinking about leadership and decision-making in university-wide administration,” Arora said. “When the new fellowship was announced, I thought it would be an outstanding way to see first-hand how the provost and his team chart the course for the entire institution.”

MacKinnon said he was pleasantly surprised by both the quantity and quality of the applications he received, and encourages any faculty members who were not selected for the 2022-23 cohort to apply this fall to be part of the next cohort.

The fellowship will be for a period of one year, beginning June 1, 2022, and continuing through May 31, 2023. MacKinnon said one reason the application deadline and selection process was so far in advance was to give sufficient time for the selected fellows to work with their department chairs and deans to plan their workload during the fellowship.

While Arora said his two specific projects are yet to be determined, given his healthcare background he’s confident at least one will focus on that. Abdulovic-Cui is hoping to work on projects focused on undergraduate academics and faculty affairs.

“I expect to be challenged as a leader and will get to develop my skills of communication and negotiation,” Abdulovic-Cui said. “I expect it to be a lot of work but I am not afraid of hard work. I know there will be challenges, but those challenges will allow me to grow into a strong administrator.”

Both are excited about the upcoming fellowship, with Abdulovic-Cui stating there are always many faculty development opportunities for faculty starting their careers, but not many opportunities for growth and development for those interested in upper administration.

“This allows our own faculty to learn what it is like to be an administrator and hopefully it will allow me the opportunity to stay at AU, a place I love, and continue to peruse my career goals.”

As a cardiologist, Arora is committed to patient care and its impact on the Southeast and wants to improve cardiovascular outcomes for the people in this region. He said he thinks this is a “fabulous opportunity” for people like him who have devoted their careers to Augusta University and “are embedded into the local Augusta community.”

“Our desire to serve and give back to the university and community can be harnessed to improve the institution and its impact on the Southeastern United States,” said Arora, who is president of the CSRA chapter of the American Heart Association and plans to continue his work regarding education and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

“This fellowship will give me a broader view of the total scope of university operation, thereby illuminating where we might expand. The opportunity to work directly with the AU leadership and contribute to the university and the community it serves will be a new arena for clinicians like me.

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Written by
Miguelangelo Hernandez

Miguelangelo Hernandez is a senior communications and media coordinator at Augusta University. He covers College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Nursing, The Dental College of Georgia, College of Science and Mathematics and Augusta University Athletics. You can reach him at mighernandez@augusta.edu or (706) 993-6411.

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man smiling Written by Miguelangelo Hernandez

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