Answering tough questions: our exit interview with Dr. Judy Marwick


There’s an old cliché that states, “Not all heroes wear capes.” These are the heroes that usually go unnoticed and rarely get credit for doing what they do.

In chatting with Dr. Judy Marwick, the Provost of Harper College, it’s apparent that her cape is collecting dust somewhere in the back of a closet. And it’s likely because many students are unaware of what a provost actually does.

In fact, Dr. Marwick, admitted that whenever she asks groups of students what exactly a Provost is, no one ever has an answer.

“I wish students knew what a Provost is and what they do! At Harper, I have responsibility for all of the academics, student affairs, and the enrollment functions of the college, which includes all the faculty, all the deans, all the counselors, all the advisers—it’s a big job!” Dr. Marwick explained. “I have a lot of people that help me with it for sure. I hope the students know that I really care about their success and I would do anything I could to help them succeed.” 

The provost been instrumental in all aspects of your academic life at Harper. If you’re successfully graduating this summer, you probably followed a demanding path through degree tracks, extra-curricular offerings, dozens of rules and regulations–meant to keep you on track. When you succeed, it’s a moment of success for the office of the provost too. And when you fail, the provost must address why and find solutions. That’s no easy task.

Dr. Marwick will retire this summer after nine years of serving as Harper’s provost.  It’s a tough job that often requires answering even tougher questions–from students, faculty, deans and the president of the college. Now it’s the Harbinger’s turn to ask some tough questions of our own.


If you could bring one new restaurant to campus what would it be?

“The Cheesecake Factory…probably not going to happen though.”

Most embarrassing moment at Harper?

“On behalf of Harper, I was attending a Schaumburg Rotary meeting at the restaurant where they were having it, but I sat in the wrong room. I just sat down with people that had nothing to do with rotary and it took me about ten minutes of chatting with them to figure out that I was in the wrong place.”

What is your go-to Starbucks order?

“Grande nonfat latte.”

What is your go-to Subway order?

“Tuna fish sandwich, six inch on wheat bread.”

Celebrity crush?

“I think Richard Gere is pretty cute.”

Favorite place on campus? Why?

“My favorite place on campus is my office because I can look out at the entire quad to see all the students walking around. It’s a beautiful office, I love the wall of windows and it’s right in the center of campus.”

Guilty pleasure?

“Kathy Bruce’s chocolate chip cookies. She has the best recipe ever.”

If you could be president of the U.S. for a day what would you do?

“I would have the department of education only recognize colleges accredited by the regional accrediting agencies. Some of the proprietary schools are accredited by a different kind of agency and I think that the regional accreditation agencies ensure excellence in higher education institutions.”

One thing you’d change about Harper?

“I would really like to build that Canning Student Center. We’re hoping to get it funded and I would also really like to redo Building A. We’d add on 70,000 square feet and put all the advisers, counselors, financial aid, and One Stop over there.”

What do you wish students knew about Harper?

“It really is the best choice, for many people, for the first two years of their education. I think that if a lot of people made that choice they’d be more successful. We have small classes, excellent professors, wonderful facilities…and I think sometimes because we’re an open-door institution, students think it might be a lesser choice and it definitely isn’t.”

What musical artist/act would you want to come to perform at Harper?

“I like Lady Gaga a lot. We probably can’t get her but if we could…”

Where do you plan to travel once you retire?

“I’ve already booked actually three trips, but the very first one is a dude ranch in Northern Idaho with my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. I’m doing that the second week after I retire.”

Advice for a student who wants to have your job one day?

“If you want to become a Provost you always have to attend all your classes and do all your assignments, you have to do more than is required, not just the minimum, and you have to continue to learn throughout your life.”

The Harbinger would like to thank Dr. Marwick for her time, her support and wish her a happy retirement!