Committee appointed to search for new provost

Provost Peter Stearns discusses the university's proposed budget at a forum in 2012 (photo by Jake McLernon).
Provost Peter Stearns discusses the university's proposed budget at a forum in 2012 (photo by Jake McLernon).

On Sept. 5, President Ángel Cabrera announced a new search committee to find George Mason University's next provost. Dr. Peter Stearns, who has served as Mason's provost since 2000, announced that he would retire in June 2014.

Stearns first announced in November 2011 that he would be stepping down from his position as Mason's senior academic administrator sometime in 2013 and join as a full-time professor with the History Department. While it was his original intention to step down earlier, Stearns has stayed on as provost to aid in the administrative transition period following the retirement of former Mason President Alan Merten.

In his announcement, Cabrera explained the selection of the committee and its composition, which heavily draws upon the insight of Science Technology Engineering Arts & Math (STEAM) professors.

“I asked the faculty senate to elect three faculty representatives,” Cabrera said in the email. “As announced by the senate itself, the faculty elected Larry Rockwood, professor of environmental science and policy; June Tangney, professor of psychology; and Robert Smith, professor of psychology.”

In addition to those appointed by the faculty senate, Cabrera added another five faculty members to aid in the search. The five appointees include Ariela Sofer, chair and professor of systems engineering and operations research; Charlene Douglas, associate professor in the School of Nursing and chair of the faculty senate; Rita Chung, professor of counseling and development; Charles Bailey, distinguished professor of biology and executive director of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases; and T. Mills Kelly, professor of History. Kelly will chair the committee.

Student body president Jordan Foster will serve as the undergraduate student representative for the search and while formal meetings have not begun yet, Foster expresses excitement for the upcoming process.

“So much of Mason is changing and I can’t wait to see what a new person will bring in with this position,” Foster said. “I’m looking forward to someone with fresh and new and exciting skills and ideas to bring to the position.”

Foster also took the time to extend his words of gratitude to Stearns as he nears his retirement.

“On behalf of the student body, I just want to say thank you for being open and kind and welcoming to the students at George Mason for all these years," Foster said. "It’s going to take a really great person to fill the space that you are leaving. We wish you the best with all your future endeavors.”

Fourth Estate will be following the search process as it advances.

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