Ralph W. Kuncl has been appointed to a second, five-year term as Provost and Executive Vice President of the University of Rochester. He has also been named the University's Chief Research Officer. His appointment was recommended by University President Joel Seligman and has been approved by the University Board of Trustees.
"Ralph has been particularly outstanding in balancing three fundamental areas of responsibility," Seligman said. "First, that of Senior Leader at the University with involvement on virtually every significant senior leadership team at the University, including those that address budget and 19 University-wide committees including Conflicts of Interest. Second, Chief Academic Officer, where, among other things, Ralph has had the lead oar in reviewing 102 tenure or promotion decisions, decanal reviews, and administering several awards and benefits programs, as well as his role with respect to our deans, libraries, faculty diversity, multidisciplinary initiatives, and celebration of our faculty and students through events, including the much lauded Celebration of the Book. Third, de facto Chief Research Officer, where Ralph has orchestrated the quite successful initiation of the Health Sciences Center for Computation Innovation, the Sponsored University Research Group, chairs the Technology Transfer Policy Committee and recently worked with the IT Steering Group in helping move us toward selection of a new cloud-based Financial Reporting System."
"I am very pleased to see the reappointment of Ralph Kuncl as the university's provost, and his new appointment as Chief Research Officer," said Edmund Hajim, chairman of the University's Board of Trustees. "Working closely with President Seligman and other university leaders, he has been an integral part of our success and he has shown great leadership in a very broad area of responsibilities. He has been and will continue to be an outstanding provost."
Kuncl was first appointed provost at Rochester in 2007, and since then he has led or directed initiatives in high performance computing, corporate research collaborations, multidisciplinary initiatives, diversity, and online education. He also has been responsible for review of university deans, the university library, approximately 150 faculty promotion or tenure decisions, sustainability and faculty-driven learning assessment initiatives. He also created and leads the annual Celebration of the Book, which brings faculty authors from across the University together to celebrate and build community around their creative authorship in the arts and sciences.
"Rochester is privileged to have so exceptional a provost as Ralph Kuncl," said Hugo Sonnenschein, a member of the Board of Trustees and a former president of the University of Chicago. "He is a smart, experienced leader in higher education who has a deep understanding of the University. He has been exceptionally dedicated to the work of our faculty and to the growth of our students. And his work on the mission statement has brought the community together by capturing the essence of our University."
Sonnenschein was referring to Kuncl's leadership in the 2011 creation of the University's first-ever and widely praised mission statement: "Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and Make the World Ever Better."
"A mission statement is not a statement about the future, but rather about what is enduring," Kuncl explained at the time. "It should explain what drives us, and what it is we are trying to create." The process began when Middle States accreditors challenged the UR after 160 years of its history to develop a University-wide statement "that would identify our core values," with contributions from all parts of the University.
Kuncl has as provost led a large and significant new initiative in high performance computing. A key component of that effort is the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, which facilitates access to high performance computational resources for biomedical research, serving the entire University. Developed through corporate partnerships, institutional support, federal research grants, and state programs, the core of the HSCCI is a collaboration with IBM and the BlueGene supercomputer platform that will be the largest of its kind dedicated solely to health sciences. The program has already led to multi-million dollar grants for research resources, and continues to advance rapidly.
Kuncl has built on the University's long history of fostering interdisciplinary collaborations with several efforts, especially the Provost's Multidisciplinary Awards. Created in response to faculty requests, the awards have provided in their first four years more than $1 million in funding for research collaborations across campus. In addition to the publications and collaborative connections made, the grants have also led to more than $20 million in external funding, for a return on investment of more than 20 to 1.
His office also oversees the University's diversity efforts, including the establishment in 2010 of the Annual Diversity Conference, an all-day event dedicated to advancing diversity at the University.
Kuncl achieved international distinction as a scientist and an administrator during more than 20 years at Johns Hopkins University, and while there he and colleagues in his lab discovered the glutamate transporter defect in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. The discovery changed the field and helped lead to the first effective treatment for the disease. In 2001, he was named Hopkins' first Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
In 2002, he left Hopkins to become provost at Bryn Mawr College, where he helped create a variety of new interdisciplinary programs, diversified and hired a third of its faculty, and nearly tripled the institution's federal research grant support.
Among his many honors, Kuncl has held American Council on Education Fellowships at both Johns Hopkins and at Bryn Mawr College, and he received a Distinguished Service Award from the University of Chicago in 2002. In national higher education leadership, he has been a member of the National Executive Board of The Reinvention Center, served in various leadership positions in the American Neurological Association and was associate editor of its top journal, the Annals of Neurology. He currently works on college affordability as a director on the national board of the Tuition Plan Consortium, sponsor of the Private College 529 Plan.
Kuncl received his A.B. degree at Occidental College and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. His research interests include motor neuron pathobiology, neuromuscular disorders, drug development, and federal funding for higher education.
Kuncl is also an accomplished musician. For 20 years, he performed in the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, one of the most respected professional arts groups in the mid-Atlantic region. He has also been a member of the Eastman Rochester Chorus.