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Coleman: Search for provost is set to begin

By Peter Shahin, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 4, 2012

With University Provost Philip Hanlon set to leave the University to become the president of Dartmouth College, University President Mary Sue Coleman said the search for an interim provost is in its beginning phase.

Despite his appointment, Hanlon is scheduled to continue his position as provost until mid-2013, but said last week that he may take some time off before beginning his new job at Dartmouth.

“It’s a terrific opportunity and it's a great place for me,” Hanlon said last week. “But you know it’s a bittersweet move because Michigan is also a great place and I’ll miss our campus for sure.”

In the past 50 years, only one provost — Teresa Sullivan, Hanlon’s predecessor and current University of Virginia president — was appointed as provost from outside the University. When Sullivan was selected as the president of the University of Virginia, Coleman, without an official search committee, selected Hanlon as the University’s next provost within two weeks of Sullivan’s announcement.

At the time, Hanlon was the vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and also a candidate to become vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hanlon's candidacy at UNC created the impetus for Coleman's rapid decision.

Though Coleman wouldn’t say definitively whether she would take such decisive action in replacing Hanlon, she said in an interview with the Michigan Daily on Tuesday no search committee for his replacement has been formed.

“I obviously haven’t known (about) Phil’s candidacy for a very long time, but I’m obviously working on it and it’s very important for the University, and I will try to do it with all due speed,” Coleman said. “He will be here though until the end of this next semester, so there’s time.”

Coleman added: “Every search is really unique and one of the things I have been proud about at the University is that we are developing leaders all the time.”

The next provost will likely face a perennially difficult budget situation and lead the University in deciding the role of information technology in the classroom, among a variety of other issues, Coleman said.

“This whole issue of how technology is both enriching experiences, the experience of students and the challenges it brings,” Coleman said. “There are continuing challenges of affordability and the investments we make in the University that keep us at the front ranks and all of those are going to be continuing challenges.”

Dean of Libraries Paul Courant, who served as provost between 2002 and 2005, said in a January 2010 interview that there is no “norm” for searching for a University provost.

“Not uncommonly, a president will look around, consult with some people and make an appointment of somebody who is here and ready to do the job,” Courant said.

Coleman echoed that sentiment Tuesday, noting that each search is unique and there is no standard operating procedure in the case of finding a new provost.

“I think that we just consider each situation independently and we’ll see what happens,” Coleman said.

Courant also cited the vice provost as a candidate that naturally transitions into provost either at the University or another school. The current vice provost is Martha Pollack, who has also served as Dean of the School of Information.

“It’s not uncommon for people to roll from that position to a provost position here or elsewhere,” Courant said.

Beside the search for the interim provost, Coleman and Hanlon are also overseeing the search committees for replacement deans for the College of LSA, the School of Dentistry, the Law School and the Libraries. Coleman said the Law School search is the farthest along, but added it is unlikely that she will announce her choice at the December meeting of the University’s Board of Regents which is scheduled for December 13.


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