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Pollack to be next provost

By Peter Shahin, Daily News Editor
and Jen Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
and Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 30, 2013

University President Mary Sue Coleman has appointed Martha Pollack as the next University provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Since 2010, Pollack has served as vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs under current Provost Philip Hanlon, who is set to become the president of Dartmouth College in July.

If approved by the Board of Regents at its Feb. 21 meeting, Pollack will assume a two-year appointment beginning May 6. The University made the announcement in a press release early Wednesday morning.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the University of Michigan as provost,” Pollack said in a statement. “This remains one of the world's premier institutions of higher education, and I am both humbled and honored to be a part of an incredibly dedicated leadership team.”

As provost, Pollack will act as the University’s chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer. In addition to her current role as a professor in the School of Information and professor of computer science and engineering in the College of Engineering, Pollack will advance and oversee teaching and research in each of the University’s institutes and 19 schools and colleges.

In her current role as vice provost, Pollack works closely with the Hanlon to craft budgetary policy, most notably the University’s general fund budget. Pollack plays a large role in supervising assessments of the University’s schools and colleges and during has been at the forefront of efforts to expand the University’s relationship with Coursera, a massive open online course platform.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily Wednesday, Coleman cited Pollack’s work with Hanlon as an integral factor in the selection.

“They’ve got such a great team in that office in terms of analyzing the budget and where we can look for cost savings — where we can make investments that are really going to move the institution,” Coleman said. “She worked really well with the team and with Phil (Hanlon) over the few years she was in that role, and it’s obvious to me that she’s somebody with enormous potential.”

Pollack has worked in partnership with Hanlon, deans and budget directors not only on budgetary issues, but also in developing and advancing new academic programs. Last fall, Pollack and Hanlon taught a one-credit course on finance in higher education to help students better understand the process of budgetary and fiscal planning.

In a statement, Coleman said Pollack’s array of experiences has prepared her to assume the University’s second highest administrative role.

“Martha Pollack is an effective leader who understands how to maintain world-class academics through a disciplined approach to finances,” Coleman said. “She has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities currently facing higher education. Her appointment as provost reflects a deep knowledge of this institution that is grounded in her work as a faculty member, department chair and dean.”

Prior to being appointed vice provost — a position Hanlon held before his own ascent to provost — Pollack served as dean of the School of Information. During her 13 years at the University, she has also served as associate chair for computer science and engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her research has focused largely on the advancement of artificial intelligence, and she has also worked as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

In an interview with the Daily Wednesday, Pollack said she is thrilled to fulfill the position, and hopes to help the University adjust to dramatic changes facing higher education.

“You can see that as a challenge or an opportunity – I think it’s both,” Pollack said.