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Peter Lennie Stepping Down as Provost

September 29, 2015

Peter Lennie has informed me of his preference for stepping down as Provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering at the conclusion of his joint terms in June 2016. I have agreed to honor his wishes with respect to the Provost’s role, but I requested that he remain in the Deanship for an additional year. He has consented to my request and will remain Dean of the Faculty until June 2017.

Since Peter began as Dean of the Faculty in 2006, he has been my closest academic advisor. Peter has substantially strengthened Arts, Sciences and Engineering, which has fewer resources than our peers and aspirational peers, by adding more than 60 new faculty, including 12 new faculty last academic year, to bring our current AS&E faculty to 362.

During Peter’s tenure, undergraduate applications have risen to almost 17,000, the highest in our history. Our entering student board scores have increased from the 87th to the 94th percentile. At the same time our populations of underrepresented minority students and international students have increased. Student retention and graduation rates are at record levels.

Peter has also brought financial stability to AS&E, substantially reducing AS&E’s endowment draw. He has twice developed strategic plans for AS&E and led their notably successful implementations.

He has overseen a substantial expansion of student housing and the renovation of a number of classroom spaces. In addition, he orchestrated the construction of several new facilities, including Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, which opened in 2007, and the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, which opened in 2013. He has also planned for the University’s future with Wegmans Hall, currently under construction as the new, state-of-the-art home to the Goergen Institute for Data Science; with forthcoming renovations to the Frederick Douglass Building; a planned new residence hall near Fauver Stadium; and future renovations for Fauver Stadium itself.

His achievements have been across the board in Data Science, Optics and Engineering, and he provided critical support for the development of our new Humanities Center and the Institute for Performing Arts.  I have deeply admired his commitment to our faculty, to academic excellence, to both our undergraduate and graduate programs, and to the internationalization of U.S. research universities in the 21st century, all while dramatically strengthening the finances of AS&E. 

Peter is a modest man, but a determined one whose vision for Arts, Sciences and Engineering has been enthusiastically endorsed by our Board of Trustees.  He has been characteristically thoughtful and cautious when embracing new initiatives, but he has never made a commitment to an initiative on which he did not deliver. 

Since 2012, Peter also has served as Provost, where he has overseen the University’s academic programs, and led several decanal searches and reappointment reviews. He has supervised the key area of University Information Technology, including preparing the way for our new student information system. In addition, he has led efforts to bolster global engagement; championed a more robust institutional research program; and provided leadership and direction to departments as diverse as the River Campus Libraries, the Memorial Art Gallery, the University of Rochester Press, and the University Health Service.

Both as Dean of the Faculty and as Provost, Peter is notable for assembling extraordinarily talented senior leadership teams and then empowering them. His associates frequently tell me how proud they are to work with him.

I particularly value Peter’s judgment, integrity, and honesty. He always has offered me advice and counsel based on what he believed was best for the University as a whole. I have learned much from our discussions and am fortunate to have worked with a Provost and Dean of the Faculty with Peter’s wisdom and rigor. 

The University of Rochester has been substantially strengthened as a result of Peter’s leadership. There will be time later this academic year to celebrate Peter’s service as Provost, but in the meantime please join me in recognizing Peter for his dedication to the University.

Within the next few weeks, I will address how I intend to proceed to select Peter’s successor as Provost.