Office of the President

August 8, 2022

Mark Richards to step down as provost in summer 2023

Ana Mari Cauce

I hope you are having an enjoyable summer and taking the time to rest and recharge. As we approach the start of the academic year next month, I’m writing to let you know 2022–23 will be Mark Richards’ last year as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Mark plans to step down as provost in summer 2023, after he completes his five-year term in the position. He will retain his position as professor of Earth and Space Sciences in the College of the Environment and continue his research and teaching as a geophysicist.

In his time as provost, Mark has had a significant positive impact, starting with the nine outstanding deans that he’s hired during his tenure.

Mark has also been collaboratively leading and supporting the Faculty Diversity Initiative, which has enabled our extraordinary recent success in recruiting talented faculty representing the many communities and students we serve. The diversity bridge funding program he initiated supports school, college and departmental recruitment priorities, while at the same time our new University Housing Assistance Program (UHAP), launched at Mark’s urging, has helped new faculty members purchase homes in our area.

Support for graduate students has also been a priority for Mark, and under his leadership the UW has nearly doubled the amount of discretionary support that the Graduate School makes available to departments for supporting graduate students.

Given the importance of data literacy to a wide range of academic disciplines, Mark spurred the creation of a minor in data science for non-STEM majors at the Seattle campus, supported by a bridge funding program for data-oriented faculty in the non-STEM fields. This program has increased the attraction of social sciences and humanities majors for new students at the UW. He also led the development with UW’s Continuum College of a restructured financial model for our summer sessions, which has opened up new opportunities for both matriculated and non-matriculated students and for new revenues for schools and colleges.

Because of the University’s vital place in catalyzing the region’s tech sector, Mark took a leadership role in advancing the UW’s contributions to the Puget Sound’s innovation ecosystem, including the creation of the Innovation Roundtable operated by CoMotion. He has also advocated for strengthening the UW’s teaching and research related to the emerging frontier of quantum information systems and engineering. And since our own systems should also keep pace with advances in technology, Mark has served as the executive sponsor of UW Finance Transformation, which is on track to go live in July 2023.

All of this has been on top of an active research portfolio, including research into the great Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs, and the possible connection between a meteor impact in the vicinity of the Yucatan Peninsula and the eruption of the Deccan Traps flood lavas in what is today India. Mark is also continuing to lead an international team of scientists researching geological and biological co-evolution in the Galapagos Islands. This research has gained international attention and is helping us better understand the evolution of our planet.

Our University — faculty, staff, students, alumni and all those we serve — owes Mark Richards a debt of gratitude for what he’s accomplished as provost, and for what he’ll continue to do over the course of the coming academic year.

This fall, I will launch a search for the next UW Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. More details on that search, including a timeline and opportunities for community engagement, will be shared after the start of the academic year.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking Mark for his service to our University and in supporting the work that he, his team and their many partners across the University will be undertaking in 2022–23.