Office of the President

August 26, 2011

Update on plans for provost search

University of Washington

Dear Members of the University of Washington Community:

After extensive consultation with faculty, staff and administrators, as well as much deliberation, I have concluded — frankly, a bit contrary to my initial inclinations — that the best course for the University at this time is to conduct an internally focused search for a new Provost for the University of Washington.

We need a strong President–Provost leadership team in place now, not a year or two from now. The challenges we face — from the economy to access and diversity to capital improvements — require stable and innovative leadership sooner rather than later. Fortunately, we have that talent here already; many of our remarkable faculty have the knowledge and creativity needed to sustain and strengthen the University’s mission in research, teaching and public service. Indeed, conversations with higher education leaders around the country confirm the obvious: We are the institution to which everyone comes to find great academic leaders. And while I am new to the UW, I recognize the extraordinary creativity and leadership capacity that is already here and, as a new member of the community, I am eager to benefit from it.

With an accelerated internal search, I hope to name a new Provost by late autumn or early winter. This is a fast pace, I know, but I strongly believe we need to move ahead quickly. These are very challenging times in higher education, with equally great opportunities.

To that end, I have appointed Jerry Baldasty, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and professor of Communication, as chair of the search committee I am now establishing. The committee draws widely from our University community and includes:

  • Vice Provost and Dean Jerry Baldasty, Graduate School, Chair
  • Professor E. Virginia Armbrust, Director, Oceanography, College of the Environment
  • Professor Susan J. Astley, Chair, Faculty Senate
  • Professor Roland E. “Pete” Dukes, Faculty Athletic Representative
  • Professor James W. Harrington, Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UW Tacoma (effective Sept. 1, 2011)
  • Professor Dan Jaffe, Science and Technology Program, UW Bothell
  • Mr. Paul E. Jenny, Vice Provost, Planning and Budgeting
  • Professor Resat Kasaba, Jackson School of International Studies
  • Ms. Ruth Mahan, Chief Business Officer, UW Medicine
  • Mr. Conor McLean, ASUW President
  • Professor Charles E. Murry, Pathology & Bioengineering
  • Mr. Aaron Naumann, GPSS President
  • Professor Daniel T. Schwartz, Chair, Chemical Engineering
  • Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor, Undergraduate Academic Affairs
  • Dean Lizabeth “Betsy” A. Wilson, University Libraries
  • Professor Kathleen Woodward, Director, Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities

The committee will spend the next few weeks getting organized, but its key work will begin only after everyone is back on campus in late September. We want to be certain that the entire UW community has an opportunity to be involved in this search. In particular, I have asked the committee to consult widely and deeply with the University community, both to identify potential candidates and to ensure that we have as comprehensive a discussion as possible regarding the nature of the Provost’s responsibilities and the characteristics we want in a Provost. I hope you all will take time during the coming months to participate in this process and provide us with the benefit of your advice and counsel to guarantee that we find the right person for this critically important position.

There will be a formal call for nominations, with a posting of the job description on September 19, and running for four weeks, until October 17. During the first month of fall quarter, search committee members will hold a series of meetings to solicit nominations as well as to seek the advice described above. Dean Baldasty will provide more detailed information about the search process in mid September.

Finally, for your information, an announcement regarding an Interim Provost will be forthcoming within a few days.

With best regards.

Michael K Young

Michael K Young