Ralph W. Kuncl, who has served as Provost and Executive Vice President of the University of Rochester since August of 2007, has been named president of the University of Redlands, Redlands, California, that university announced today, June 2.
"Ralph Kuncl has been an outstanding provost for the past five years," said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. "He has provided outstanding academic leadership by encouraging top-quality appointments and leadership in research, especially in our partnership with IBM and establishment of the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation.
"Ralph has long been ready to assume a significant university presidency," Seligman added. "The University of Redlands is an exciting university on an upward trajectory, and all of us at Rochester are delighted that Ralph has been selected to lead Redlands at this important time. We wish him every success.
"Ralph will remain provost until August 15. Within the next few weeks I will circulate a statement on succession."
Kuncl himself said, "The challenges our nation faces today require educated and engaged citizens who can make enlightened and responsible choices. This makes our universities more vital and more necessary than ever. So it is with great humility that I accept the stewardship of a university so committed to creating the next generation of leaders.
"I have been fortunate in my career to see first hand the value of a liberal arts and sciences education as well as what it takes to forge leadership. That makes it especially gratifying for both Nancy and me to be welcomed now into a community committed to academic excellence in all of liberal education and the translation of knowledge into the real world.
"Redlands is a special place that blends high ethical standards, complete engagement with its region, creativity in music and the arts, innovation in education and business, and a commitment to inclusiveness. These values, which also have inspired us at Rochester, have set the University of Redlands on a clear trajectory upward. I am honored to be asked to help lead its continuing growth, evolution, and success."
As Rochester's provost, Kuncl led or directed initiatives in high performance computing, corporate research collaborations, multidisciplinary initiatives, diversity, and online education. He also was responsible for review of university deans, the university library, faculty promotion and tenure decisions, sustainability and faculty-driven learning assessment initiatives. And he 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.
"Ralph Kuncl has been a terrific provost here at Rochester, and I'm confident that he will be an outstanding president at the University of Redlands," said Edmund Hajim, chairman of the Board of Trustees at Rochester. "We have benefitted from Ralph's deep knowledge of science and commitment to scholarship in a wide variety of fields, his keen intelligence, and his wonderful sense of humor. The Board has truly enjoyed working with him. We wish Ralph and Nancy well as they embark on this exciting new challenge."
The Kuncls have also played an active role in the university's social life. On their arrival in Rochester, they supervised the restoration of the historic Patrick Barry House and its gardens. After making it their official residence, they planned and presided over scores of social events for hundreds of faculty, students, alumni, and friends.
"Ralph Kuncl has been an outstanding provost of our University," said Hugo Sonnenschein, a member of Rochester's Board of Trustees and a former president of the University of Chicago. "He and President Seligman have had a partnership that has served the university exceptionally well. Ralph has played a pivotal role in matters as disparate as enhancing our research capacity and creating our new mission statement. The University of Redlands attracted an educational leader of the highest stature. We will miss Ralph and Nancy, but we will take great pride in their successes at Redlands."
Kuncl built on Rochester'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 led to more than $20 million in external funding, for a return on investment of more than 20 to 1.
His office has also been instrumental in advancing the University's diversity efforts, including the establishment in 2010 of the Annual Diversity Conference, an all-day event dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion 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. In Rochester, he has been a member of the Eastman Rochester Chorus.