Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I’m pleased to provide updates on the search for a new provost, on an important organizational change, and on the appointment of interim leadership as we continue to move the University of Rochester forward.

Provost Search

We have finalized the membership of the search committee for the University of Rochester’s next provost. They are:

Mark B. Taubman, M.D. (Committee Chair)
Chief Executive Officer, University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine; Dean, School of Medicine and Dentistry; Senior Vice President for Health Sciences

Danielle Benoit
Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Jim Brickley
Gleason Professor of Business Administration

Will Bridges
Associate Professor of Japanese

Elizabeth P. Bruno
Trustee; Chair of Student Life Committee; President, Brady Education Foundation

Margaret-Ann Carno
Professor of Clinical Nursing

Gilbert (Rip) Collins
Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Mechanical Engineering 

Jane Gatewood
Vice Provost for Global Engagement

Narayana Kocherlakota 
Lionel W. McKenzie Professor of Economics

Katrina Smith Korfmacher
Professor of Environmental Medicine 

Joanne Larson
Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education & Associate Director of Research, Center for Urban Education Success

Addisu Mesfin
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery & Neurosurgery

Joe Testani
Associate Vice Provost for Career Education Initiatives; Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Gwen M. Greene Center for Career Education & Connections

James VanDemark
Professor of Double Bass; Cochair, Strings, Harp, and Guitar Department

Tony Green and Gigi DeMita-Benway will serve as staff to the committee, which will be working closely with our external search firm, Isaacson Miller. Peter Lange, provost emeritus of Duke, is leading the Isaacson Miller team on this search. I’d like to thank every member of the committee for their participation and to thank the Faculty Senate for their efforts in identifying and nominating faculty candidates for this extremely important undertaking. I would like to especially thank Mark Taubman for agreeing to chair the committee and Liz Bruno for agreeing to serve as the representative of the Board of Trustees.

It goes without saying that this search is extremely important to the future of our institution. I am hopeful that we will have a new provost in place by January 1, 2022, but I am also committed to conducting a comprehensive search that will yield the best result for our great institution. We will be creating a website that will link to the position description and the committee will engage with various faculty, staff, and student groups to further inform the search. I would encourage any of you who have suggestions or nominations for this role to reach out to the committee via a special e-mail address that we are creating for this purpose. We will be announcing the website and the e-mail address within the next few weeks.

Change in Organization Structure

The launch of this search presented an opportunity to reconsider the organizational structure of the Office of the Provost. After Rob Clark announced that he was stepping down as provost and senior vice president for research effective July 1, 2021, I began a robust process of discussions with members of the University community, including senior leaders, deans, faculty, and trustees about what is needed to enhance our reputation as a leading research university of global consequence. From these discussions, it’s clear to me that our University will be better served by separating the provost’s role from that of the research role. This will allow us to focus intensively in both the academic affairs and research aspects of the University of Rochester’s future. My plan is to work with our new provost, once that person is in place, to conduct a national search for a vice president for research, who will report to the president. This change is actually a return to the original organizational structure at the time when the position was first established in 2012.

Even as the search for our new provost is conducted, the work of the University must continue. So, I am appointing an interim provost for a 6-month period from July 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, and an interim vice president for research for a 12-month period from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. And I’m delighted that two of our exceptional faculty colleagues have agreed to serve in interim roles to provide continuity and momentum. 

Interim Appointments

Earlier this week, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the appointments of Sarah Peyre, currently dean of the Margaret Warner School of Education and Human Development, as interim provost, and Steve Dewhurst, currently vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) and associate vice president for health sciences research for the University, as interim vice president for research.

Sarah Peyre was appointed as dean of the Warner School in July 2020 and previously served as associate dean for innovative education and professor of surgery, nursing, medical humanities and bioethics. In addition to these appointments, Sarah was the executive director of the Institute for Innovative Education, where she led advances in health professions education through simulation, adaptive technology, team science, and novel approaches to information and education delivery. I am grateful to Doug Guiffrida, professor, associate dean for graduate studies, and director of the advanced certificate program in mind/body healing and wellness, for agreeing to serve as interim dean of the Warner School during Sarah’s term as interim provost. As part of her interim role, I have asked Sarah to organize and lead a University educational innovation strategy committee to develop recommendations that we can incorporate into our future planning.

Steve Dewhurst has over 30 years of experience at the University in progressive leadership roles. In addition to his roles as SMD vice dean for research and University associate vice president for health sciences research, he is also currently chair and professor of microbiology and immunology. He will step down from this role while he serves as interim vice president for research. His research focuses on RNA viruses, including HIV, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2. As part of his interim role, I have asked Steve to organize and lead a University research strategy committee to develop recommendations that will also inform our future planning.

Under the revised organizational structure approved by the Board of Trustees, we have divided operational responsibilities in the following way:

The Office of the Provost will oversee:

  • Arts, Sciences & Engineering
  • The Simon Business School
  • The Warner School of Education
  • The Eastman School of Music
  • Information Technology
  • University of Rochester Libraries
  • University Ombuds Office
  • Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • University Health Service
  • Office for Academic Affairs
  • Office for Global Engagement
  • Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
  • Susan B. Anthony Center
  • Data Governance
  • Institutional Research
  • And lead, co-lead, liaise, and participate in a variety of University and Board committees

The Vice President for Research will oversee:

  • Associate Vice President for Research (formerly Vice Provost for Research)
  • Office of Research Projects Administration
  • Laboratory for Laser Energetics
  • UR Ventures
  • Office of Human Subjects Protection/Research Subjects Review Board
  • Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI)
  • And lead, co-lead, liaise, and participate in a variety of University and Board committees

I know that Sarah and Steve are excited about their new roles. As former colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center, they already have an excellent working relationship that will allow them to hit the ground running on July 1. I know they will bring fresh and innovative perspectives to our leadership team. At the same time, I would like to once again offer my thanks and appreciation to Rob Clark for his service. The University owes Rob a debt of gratitude that cannot easily be repaid. 

As we look forward with rising hope to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and the distances it has put between us, I am excited to be moving the University of Rochester forward with renewed vigor. Thanks to all of you for your continued contributions to our community.


Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor