Q and A with incoming Provost Jake Bucher

Regis will welcome Jake Bucher as the new provost on July 10. We asked him to answer a few questions in the interim:

  • Can you tell us a little bit about your background and family life?

In terms of background, I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a military family. The frequent moves were certainly difficult at times, but the opportunity to live and travel across the country and world has played a big part in how I understand and interact with others, including helping shape my own understanding of my positionality - which informs my work in equity and justice. 

My path to higher education was somewhat unintended. The plan was to serve in the Army, get my bachelor’s, and at some point transition to state or federal law enforcement. A turning point happened while working as military police on a case involving sexual violence. My frustration with the lack of victim support and justice eventually motivated me to pursue a master’s degree, with the idea that I could move into administration and influence how such cases are handled. While in that MA program, I got to teach a class, and as I say – caught the educator bug, leading to my pursuit of a doctoral degree and faculty position. I’ve remained committed to improving prevention and responses to sexual violence, through my scholarship and partnership with organizations such as the National Organization of Victim Assistance.

My transition to administration came about due to my desire to serve and support. I’ve found that I can help students, faculty, and staff with a wide range of issues and efforts. That purpose of being in service for others is fulfilling and hopefully helpful.

I met my wife, Carrie, in graduate school. We have two children, Gus and Eleanor, and two dogs – Hodie (short for Hodor if anyone is a Game of Thrones fan), and Wilfred. We’re currently in the era of everyone needing to be driven to a practice/game/appointment/etc. seemingly all the time, but we do enjoy our time together.

  • What attracted you most to Regis and Denver?

I think many people would say that Denver recruits itself, and I would argue that Regis did too. For Denver, the mountains and access to nature are clear draws, as is what we understand about the socio-cultural environment. For Regis, I am someone who finds fulfillment in work and place. The Provost portfolio (the work) is attractive to me because of the quality of Regis programs and the talent of the faculty and staff. Regis has an established dynamic approach to education, and the appetite/opportunity to grow the impact of that education. The current strengths of the academic community, and the opportunities for improvement, are all things that I do well and enjoy doing. I’m excited to get to work. The Regis community (the place) is one that provides value alignment with me and our family. This certainly includes the various Jesuit values, but especially the value of cura personalis as it is necessary that I be in relation with people as we do our good work.  

  • You have spent quite a bit of time at Dominican University, another Catholic institution in the Chicagoland area prior to coming to Regis. Is there anything you have learned in your tenure there that you hope to bring here?

I think the Dominican commitment to service, to relationships, and to compassion are all things I see at Regis and I hope to bring to my work as Provost. The Order of Preachers doesn’t believe in hierarchies, something that has always aligned with me as I believe in working with and for others, and that a leadership title is a call to lead with colleagues and not over them. The way Dominicans, specifically the Sinsinawas who founded Dominican University and continue to work there, commit to relationships is a great example of cura personalis. Yes, we have a lot of work to do, and much of it is difficult, but if we don’t do it in a way that takes care of each other and does right by each other – it is empty and ultimately failing work. And finally, the Dominican version of the Catholic Intellectual tradition is that we don’t separate truth and love. Whether you pursue this as value-based education, truth and faith, Aquinas’ middle-ground or Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean, this notion of balancing truth and compassion motivates all of my work and I hope to bring that to Regis. I think this relates to my commitment to relationships too. The role of Provost carries with it many difficult decisions that may have painful outcomes, if difficulty and pain are truths in certain cases, it is my job that they are accompanied with compassion.

  • Regis was recently designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution – how do you plan to help elevate initiatives to help us continue to maintain that status as well as ensuring the University reflects values of inclusivity and the Jesuit mission?

Regis’ HSI status was actually a big attraction for me, creating access to education and credentials is a significant and impactful part of justice work an’ I'm proud to join Regis in this service’ I've learned a lot from working at Dominican, and from my collaborations with Dr. Gina Garcia, a leading expert on HSIs. I think the key thing I can say here is that to be successful we ’aren't merely create more opportunities for Latin a/o/e students to join Regis without changing our operations and culture. Being IHSI in terms of enrollment but a predominantly white institution in terms of culture fails students, faculty, and staff from all identities/backgrounds. We can evolve our operations and cultures and do so not only without drifting from the Jesuit mission - but informed and strengthened by it. What I hope to bring to these efforts from the Provost's Office is advocacy and accountability. We have so many parts of the institution, but academics are the center – the more visible and actionable efforts we have for servingness and inclusivity in academic affairs’ policy and practice – the more growth as a whole institution we will experience.

  • As Provost, what challenges do you anticipate and how do you hope to overcome them?

I had a mentor warn me against transitioning to a Provost role. She said it is an incredibly difficult time for Provosts due to low budgets and low morale across higher education. But a quote from the founder of Dominican University, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, resonates with me - "go where the work is great and difficult.” Certainly a challenge is to maintain/grow academic quality, support faculty and staff, and innovate – all with limited resources. I also understand at Regis that there is a recent history of turnover that has allowed some instability or at least disconnect, and that this has kept the wonderful talent and key opportunities from being maximized and realized. We’ll continue to work through the scarce resource issues by both being intentional and effective in allocating what resources we do have, but also ambitious in how we generate new resources. As for structure and systems, the best way to overcome chaos is through clarity. With stability in the Provost’s Office, we will begin the work of creating structures/systems/processes that improve work and communication flow, and that create operational efficiencies and strengthens organizational culture (caring for each other and doing right by each other). To overcome the inherent challenges facing higher education these days, we have to first make sure we're not getting in our own way. That is where I will start, and then together we'll work through any challenges that may come. I will pursue all challenges with a maintained commitment to mission and with assurances for efficacy and engagement for members of the community in navigating the challenges. 

  • Do you have any hobbies or have a favorite sports team?

In terms of hobbies - time with family, time with my work community, and being active are all important to me. My family and I like to get out in nature and see movies/shows. Our daughter is active in soccer and our son in School of Rock - so we're often at games/performances. My wife and I always love checking out new restaurants, going to concerts/shows, and traveling. By work community, I have a bit of a cheat code with work-life balance as what I like to do in my free time is beneficial to my role. I am so excited to attend Regis sporting events, student performances, guest speakers, etc. - and doing so will also help me grow and serve as Provost. As for being active, I'm a former student athlete - and while I don't have a lot of gas left in the tank, I like to work out and play in rec leagues, etc. I also have an annual tradition of summiting a 14'er. This year I'll do Mount Whitney just days before my official first day with Regis. 

I'm hesitant to answer the sports question. I love sports, but only claim two fandoms. The first is the Chicago Cubs - growing up moving around a lot, and doing so before cable television, the one station we got wherever we moved was WGN - which carried Cubs games. So they became a constant for me, my consistent home-town team even though I never lived in Chicago until my late 30's. But I look forward to rooting for the Rockies too. My other team, and I'm glad I have a signed contract before sharing this, is the Kansas City Chiefs. My son also loves all sports, and he asked "so will we root for the Rockies/Nuggets/Avalanche/and Broncos?" And I said, "everyone but the Broncos."

  • What are you most looking forward to when you arrive at Regis?

I'm most looking forward to the people and getting to work. I'm excited to start building relationships and building trust, and just being part of the community. I also know there is a lot of work to do, and I'm excited to get to it. My current team tells the story of when I had back surgery a couple of years ago. In planning for it, my surgery was on a Monday, and I told them I'll be available for a Zoom on Tuesday and back to work on Friday. They said, "you know Jake, we'll be ok - you should take your time to recover," and I said "I know you all will be ok, but I won't be ok if I'm not being helpful." I know Regis will be ok until I get up to speed, but I won't be ok if I can't immediately be helpful!



Jake Bucher, Ph.D.