UW Today

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July 8, 2010

UW Board of Regents Names Provost Phyllis Wise as Interim President

News and Information

            The University of Washington Board of Regents at a special public meeting today voted to appoint Phyllis M. Wise, UW Provost and Executive Vice President, to serve as interim president of the University of Washington while the Regents conduct a search for a new president to replace Mark Emmert. As provost, Wise is the University’s chief academic and chief budget officer, and the second-highest university administrator. She will be the first woman and the first Asian-American to serve as UW president.


            “Phyllis Wise brings exceptional strengths to this position and provides essential continuity in leadership in these challenging times in the University’s history,” said Herb Simon, chair of the Board of Regents. “She has been a thoughtful architect of the University’s response to unprecedented economic times and reductions in its state budget and has managed to protect the academic core of the institution as much as possible. She was instrumental in bringing about the establishment of the new College of the Environment and has led a number of highly successful searches for academic leadership among the university’s deans and vice provosts.  The Board places great confidence in her leadership and in her ability to guide the University as it navigates through these difficult economic times. We are fortunate to have someone of her abilities to assume this critical role.”


            “I am honored and excited to serve the University of Washington in this new role,” said Wise. “The UW is truly one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the world, with remarkable faculty, amazing staff, and wonderful students. I am grateful to the Board of Regents for giving me the opportunity to provide leadership at this critical juncture. I look forward to forging ahead on many fronts and to working with the community to build on our strengths and create new opportunities for the University of Washington to make a difference.”


            Wise, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, is a professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Biology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. She previously served as dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis, from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that, she was professor and chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky from 1993 to 2002. Wise was a faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, from 1976 to 1993, promoting through the ranks to full professor of physiology in 1987.  She holds a bachelor’s degree (1967) from Swarthmore College in biology, a doctorate (1972) in zoology from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctor of science (2008) from Swarthmore.


            Wise has maintained an active research program in issues concerning women’s health and gender-based biology. She has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has received two MERIT Awards, which provide funding for innovative research over a 10-year period of time. She has served on a number of advisory committees, including NIH study sections, the Council for the National Institute on Aging, the RAND Health Board, the Ellison Medical Foundation Board, and the Bullitt Foundation Board.


            Wise was elected to the Nike Board of Directors in 2009. Since her appointment, she has donated her Nike compensation to support scholarships at the University of Washington. She has indicated that during her service as interim president, she will continue to donate her Nike compensation to support students in higher education. When she was appointed to the Nike board, she formally recused herself from all UW business dealings with Nike. That separation will remain in effect during her time as interim president. Any decisions by the University relating to its business dealings with Nike will be made by other top university officials.


            As interim president, Wise’s compensation for the year will be $621,000, which includes $471,000 in salary and $150,000 in deferred compensation (she currently earns $559,000 as provost). She will take over as interim president this fall when Emmert leaves for the NCAA.