Washington University in St. Louis began a national search this summer for its next provost. The search committee has been tasked with finding a successor for Holden Thorp, who concluded his term on July 15 after serving in the role since 2013.

  • Andrew D. Martin, Chancellor, Chair of the Provost Search Committee
  • Eva Aagaard, MD, the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor of Medical Education, School of Medicine
  • Emily Boyd, teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, McKelvey School of Engineering
  • Andrew Bursky, AB/BS/MS ’78, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Atlas Holdings LLC
  • Jeffrey Catalano, professor of earth and planetary sciences, Arts & Sciences
  • Hedwig Lee, professor of sociology, Arts & Sciences
  • Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean, Brown School
  • Eric Mumford, the Rebecca & John Voyles Professor of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
  • Leila Sadat, the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law
  • Lawrence Thomas, BS/AB ’77, partner, Edward Jones; university trustee
  • Lori White, vice chancellor for student affairs

The committee will be staffed by Lisa Siddens, assistant provost for strategic projects and appointments; and Rebecca Brown, associate vice chancellor and chief of staff to the chancellor.



An Invitation to Apply for the position of


“At the highest level, my goals as chancellor will be to empower faculty to achieve their greatest potential in scholarship and education, to strengthen all academic programs, to be a tireless advocate for the university, to recruit the most talented students — regardless of their previous educational opportunities — and to dramatically increase funded research.”

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin


Washington University in St. Louis (Washington University), one of the nation’s premier private institutions of higher education, seeks a distinguished academic and administrative leader to serve as its next Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. This is an exceptional opportunity for an ambitious and seasoned leader to join one of the world’s leading research universities during an exciting moment of change and transformation. Andrew Martin began his tenure as Chancellor on June 1, 2019 and the next provost will join the leadership of a university whose academic excellence, status, and reputation have risen remarkably over the past two decades, securing its position among the world’s leading research universities. As chief academic officer, the provost will partner with Chancellor Martin to further enhance the university’s academic distinction without changing its core identity as a rigorous research-intensive university that simultaneously fosters collaboration, provides a personalized experience for students, and cares deeply about its community—both on campus and across the St. Louis region.

Founded in 1853, Washington University today is nationally and internationally renowned for teaching, learning, research, service to society, and patient care. The university’s investment in the highest quality of undergraduate and graduate education, the excellence of its top-ranked medical school and school of social work, and the success of many of its units, including top-ranked programs in the departments of arts & sciences, law, business, engineering, and design and visual arts, will form an ideal platform for the provost, in close partnership with the chancellor and deans, to accelerate its remarkable upward trajectory.

The provost reports to the chancellor and is responsible for the academic enterprise across Danforth Campus, the university’s main campus. The provost will convene the deans of the major academic units, as well as the leaders of numerous centers, programs, and institutes, to promote academic excellence and scholarly activity, facilitate cross-disciplinary connections and foster improvements and innovations in teaching and research.

The executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller has been retained to assist the search committee for the search. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.


Washington University was founded in 1853, conceived by a group of St. Louis business, political, and religious leaders concerned by the lack of institutions of higher learning in the Midwest. Unusual among major American universities, Washington University was not established with a financial endowment, nor the backing of a single religious organization, individual wealthy patron, or earmarked government support, but rather by a collaboration of empowered and diverse citizens. That spirit of collaboration, independence, and dedication to the mission of pursuit of knowledge and service for its own merits still characterizes Washington University today.

The university currently encompasses 2,362 acres and more than 150 major buildings on the Danforth and Medical campuses, as well as the West Campus and South Campus in Clayton, North Campus in the city of St. Louis, 560 Music Center and Lewis Center in University City, and the Tyson Research Center located 20 miles southwest of the city.

In 2017, the university began the most significant capital project in recent history: transformation of the east end of the Danforth Campus. This transforming project includes eight major components — three new academic buildings, an expansion of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, two new multi-use facilities, an underground parking garage, and the expansive new Ann and Andrew Tisch Park. The east end transformation of the Danforth Campus furthers the university’s mission and values, setting the course for the next era of academic excellence and service to society. Much of this transformation is already complete and the remaining components of the east end campus will open in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Washington University offers student-centered undergraduate educational excellence within a world-class research-intensive university. The university has a well-established, top-ranked medical school, a thriving academic medical enterprise, and distinctive programs in the life sciences; a strong arts and sciences core; a rich collection of professional schools spanning architecture and the arts, business, engineering, law, and social work; and a number of innovative, interdisciplinary graduate programs. Its faculty are global in their outlook and the university welcomes students from all over the world.

Washington University has seven academic divisions – Arts & Sciences, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, John M. Olin School of Business, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, McKelvey School of Engineering, School of Law, and School of Medicine – and educates approximately 14,000 full-time students, divided almost equally between undergraduate and graduate/professional students. Over 300 programs lead to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a broad spectrum of traditional and interdisciplinary fields. Its FY2019 operating budget totals approximately $3.3 billion, the greatest share of which is devoted to instruction, research, and academic support. As of June 30, 2018, the market value of the university’s endowment was $7.7 billion, a number that has risen steadily with successful capital campaigns and investments.

Washington University belongs to a small class of elite universities characterized by a deep commitment to excellence in both undergraduate education and research and scholarship. Over the last two decades, the university has invested significantly in its undergraduate enterprise, constructing new residence halls, academic buildings, and a university center, expanding student services, and maintaining its strong commitment to personalized attention and small class size. The university’s undergraduate student-faculty ratio is 8:1 and nearly 64 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. Washington University is today one of the most selective undergraduate institutions in the country: its undergraduate program is ranked 19th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. More than 31,000 students applied for one of the 1,750 spots in the entering class. The applicant pool is strong in both number and academic quality, with average SAT scores over 1500 for the enrolling classes over the last eight years.

At the same time, the university has continued to develop its historically strong research enterprise, with total sponsored research in FY2018 hitting $711.8 million, including $522.7 million in federal contracts and grants. The university is on a superb trajectory, built on a consistent foundation, and sustained over a generation. There is an opportunity for the next provost to further promote research activity, especially trans-disciplinary scholarship that enhances collaboration across campus.


Andrew D. Martin was appointed Washington University’s 15th chancellor by the university’s Board of Trustees on July 14, 2018 and assumed the office on June 1, 2019. Martin comes to Washington University from the University of Michigan, where he served as dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The chancellorship marks a return to Washington University for Martin. He earned his doctorate in political science from the university in 1998 and was a member of the university’s faculty for 14 years, most recently serving as the Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science. He served as founding director of the Center for Empirical Research in the Law from 2006 to 2014, as chair of the Department of Political Science in Arts & Sciences from 2007 to 2011, and as vice dean in the School of Law from 2012 to 2014.

This search is underway as Holden Thorp, provost since 2013, stepped down on July 15, 2019. During his tenure, Thorp led the university’s academic enterprise through a period of tremendous growth in several key areas. Among his chief priorities was increasing the socioeconomic and racial diversity as well as academic standards of the undergraduate student body. Thorp also contributed to the university’s rise in prominence as an institution that drives innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the St. Louis region. These remain important priorities for the next provost.



Washington University has built its distinct academic program around its values. Faculty welcome engagement with students and service to their university and community as important parts of their role. The same professors teach both undergraduate and graduate courses. Faculty in all schools total about 4,000, including both full-time and adjunct faculty. The long-term effort to strengthen the faculty and encourage scholarship has been productive and the last two chancellors have viewed endowing professorships as a priority of the fundraising enterprise. Over the last two decades, more than 300 endowed professorships were added across the university.

Washington University faculty receive many honors and awards and currently serve on the editorial boards of numerous professional and scholarly journals. The university has been affiliated with 24 Nobel laureates, many of whom did a significant portion of their award-winning work at the university. Washington University also counts among its current and past faculty four Pulitzer Prize winners, three Poets Laureate of the United States, 62 American Academy of Arts and Sciences members, 57 National Academy of Sciences members, 31 American Law Institute members, and 10 National Medal of Science recipients.

The seven schools that make up the university are independent and nationally competitive. The university has improved substantially over the past four decades and its reputation has followed. The recent building boom on campus has granted the schools new and state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research.

  • Arts & Sciences is the largest undergraduate and graduate program and is the center of intellectual life on campus. It comprises the core disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Undergraduates from all four schools take classes in Arts & Sciences; more than 70 percent of undergraduate credits are earned in Arts & Sciences courses and there are more than 700 Arts & Sciences faculty. The university has targeted investments in academic distinction in Arts & Sciences and many disciplines have achieved national eminence. A high priority of Arts & Sciences is to achieve ever greater strength across the full range of disciplines.
  • The Olin Business School, with 216 total faculty, enrolls more than 800 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students, and has been consistently ranked among the world’s top business schools by The Wall Street Journal, S. News & World Report, Financial Times, BusinessWeek, and The Economist.
  • The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is a unique collaboration in architecture, art, and design education. Its three central units – the College of Art, the College of Architecture, and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum – merged in 2005 to create the current collaborative unit offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2018, the College of Architecture’s graduate program enrolled 293 students, and the undergraduate program, which aims to prepare students to solve a wide variety of problems, not just architectural, enrolled 183 students. The College of Art, whose fine arts program is ranked 12th in S. News & World Report, enrolled 310 undergraduates and 37 graduate students.
  • The McKelvey School of Engineering enrolls 1,356 undergraduates and 1,333 graduate students and has been identified as an area of growth for Washington University. Total research funding for FY2019 was $29.6 million.
  • The School of Law has been on a remarkable trajectory for the past ten years. It is currently ranked 18th overall among American Bar Association approved law schools by S. News & World Report and its clinical training and trial advocacy programs have consistently ranked in the top ten. The School of Law has 113 faculty and enrolled 970 students on campus in Fall 2018; it also has a thriving online program with an additional 321 students.
  • The Brown School has distinguished itself as a premier school of social work, recognized nationally and internationally. It has consistently ranked first or second in all S. News rankings. Leveraging the strength of the School of Medicine, the school began offering a Master’s in Public Health program in 2008, and currently boasts one of the only post-doctoral programs in social work. Nearly 700 post-graduate students are enrolled in the Brown School, 90 percent of whom receive financial assistance. The Brown School is currently comprised of 143 faculty engaged in high-level research and teaching. The school has been a driver of research activity at Washington University and was instrumental in the creation of the Institute for Public Health.
  • Washington University School of Medicine has achieved international prominence as a leader in improving human health throughout the world. As noted leaders in patient care, research, and education, the faculty has contributed countless discoveries and innovations to the field of science since the founding of the School of Medicine in 1891. The Medical School is ranked 8th in the country by S. News and World Report; the programs in occupational therapy and physical therapy are each ranked 1st, and its program in audiology and communication sciences is ranked 3rd. The School of Medicine operating revenues totaled $2.6 billion in FY2018. Its robust research enterprise generated $624.3 million in research funding in FY2018, representing more than three-quarters of the university’s total research dollars. Clinical faculty provide a wide array of outstanding inpatient and outpatient care, along with clinical trials, which offer patients the opportunity to participate in the evaluation of innovative treatments and prevention strategies. Siteman Cancer Center is a joint venture of the School of Medicine and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital. It is one of the five largest cancer centers in the U.S. based on patient volume and one of only a few to receive an “exceptional” rating by the National Cancer Institute. Siteman treats adults at six locations and partners with St. Louis Children’s Hospital in the treatment of pediatric patients.

Graduate and Professional Studies

Washington University enrolled 8,146 graduate and professional students in fall 2018, including evening, part-time and online programs. In the graduate and professional degree programs, students have the opportunity to pursue degrees in architecture, art, business, engineering, law, medicine, social work, and a range of arts and sciences disciplines. Arts & Sciences enrolls the most graduate students, followed by Business, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Social Work, and then Art and Architecture.

Students and Student Life

A beloved student affairs administrator at Washington University coined the phrase, “We will know every student by their name and story.” That deep personal commitment is still an important hallmark of the Washington University experience today. The desire on the part of staff and faculty to understand and support students, and the investments in student life, curricular flexibility, personalized advising, and a focus on the intersections of living and learning have significantly raised the standing and academic profile of the university’s applicants over time. It has also given the university an appealing brand and culture that is a point of pride and a draw for many excellent students.

Washington University enrolled 7,791 undergraduate students in the fall of 2018. More than 80 percent of the incoming class was ranked in the top ten percent of their high school class, and the average SAT score was 1504. Undergraduates enroll within Arts &Sciences, the McKelvey School of Engineering, the Olin School of Business, and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The average first year retention rate is 97 percent. The six-year graduation rate is 94 percent.

Washington University has re-committed itself to recruiting and enrolling a more diverse student body. The university enrolls fairly equal numbers of women (53 percent) and men (47 percent). These percentages hold true for both undergraduate and graduate student populations. Among those students reporting racial and ethnic affiliations at the undergraduate level, 51 percent are White, 19 percent are Asian, 11 percent are Black or African American, nine percent are Hispanic or Latino, one percent are American Indian, Alaska or Hawaii Native, or Pacific Islander, and two percent did not indicate a racial or ethnic affiliation. The undergraduate international student enrollment is eight percent of total enrollment. Approximately 90 percent of undergraduates come from outside Missouri.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship

With much of its activity housed in the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Washington University has made great strides to encourage the development of ideas and industries generated in the St. Louis area and within the university.

The program offers over 40 entrepreneurship-related courses. In the past ten years, program alumni have started over 300 ventures which have raised $5 billion in the aggregate. The Center facilitates early stage ideation through IdeaBounce® and manages multiple funding sources, including the Global Impact Award, the Leadership and Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program, and the Skandalaris Venture Competition to support the startup ecosystem.

The Office of Technology Management’s (OTM) mission is to pair cutting edge Washington University research with expertise and exceptional service in order to create a pipeline of opportunities that can benefit society.  With this mission in mind, OTM has worked diligently over the last 5 years to cultivate, encourage, and celebrate innovation.  Demonstrative proof of these endeavors are reflected across a variety of metrics including a 50% increase in invention disclosures, an 80% increase in patent application filings, and a doubling of license agreements. OTM also supports the growth of university entrepreneurship by licensing university IP to startup companies, which have increased two-to-three fold during this time period.


Organization and Finance

Washington University uses a classic version of revenue centered management. Finances are decentralized in the university to the schools and colleges, and within the Medical School, to the departments. Each dean has profit and loss responsibility for their unit; tuition revenues follow undergraduate credit hours. Each academic unit contributes a prorated percentage of net undergraduate tuition to central administration to establish a central fund to support institutional strategic priorities. The schools work closely with the central administration on budget planning and prioritization. There is significant central strategic investment, driven by philanthropy and careful investment, and central investments are coordinated with the schools.

Washington University had a total operating expense budget of roughly $3.3 billion for FY2019. For FY2018, when total operating expenses were $3.1 billion, operating revenues totaled $3.5 billion, the largest share of which, approximately $1.5 billion, came from patient/hospital revenues.

Building the endowment has been a priority in fundraising efforts and it has been reflected in the growth of central resources. The endowment stood at $4.6 billion on June 30, 2010, and as of June 30, 2018, it reached $7.7 billion. In total for FY2018 endowment spending accounted for approximately ten percent of revenues. The two largest most recent investments Washington University has made, the east end transformation and a campus-wide technology upgrade, will have all funding sources required to support the project between 2021 and 2025.


As the fourth-largest employer in the metropolitan area, Washington University plays an important role in the leadership of St. Louis and the university has deep roots in the community. The university is the institutional sponsor of seven charter schools, including the city’s first Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter school and the Medical Center expends more than $115 million in uncompensated patient care. Many local residents also take courses through University College, Washington University’s professional and continuing education division. Officially founded in 1931, University College offers part-time, evening, and summer school classes to students who want to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees or certificates in specialized areas of study, or to pursue personal enrichment. It also administers the university’s Summer School.

In 2002, Washington University joined with BJC HealthCare, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden to create the Cortex Innovation Community, a 200-acre innovation hub in the heart of St. Louis and near the essential science institutions. It has to date created 1.95 million-square-feet of new and rehabilitated space totaling over $675 million of investment and generating 6,000 technology-related jobs. When fully implemented, the Cortex master plan projects $2.3 billion of construction over 4.5 million-square-feet of mixed-use development (research, office, clinical, residential, hotel, and retail), a new MetroLink light-rail station and 15,000 permanent technology-related jobs. Currently, there are over 400 companies that call the Cortex Innovation Community their home. Cortex has played a central role in the movement of young people to the city and the revival of St. Louis.

Service and engagement with the community is a fundamental value at Washington University. The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement coordinates the civic engagement efforts of the university; 54 percent of undergraduates report involvement in community service. Annually, the university community contributes nearly one million person-hours to the community each year. Additionally, the university sustains nearly 600 partnerships with the community. Faculty also collaborate with communities to make advances in public health, the environment, and community development, and at least 80 community-engaged courses are offered annually, spanning every academic school.

St. Louis

Consistently ranked among the nation’s most affordable and best places to live and raise families, the St. Louis region offers many opportunities to watch or participate in a wide range of sports, recreational activities, and cultural events. It’s an accessible city and there are more free, world-class attractions in St. Louis than any place in the U.S. outside of Washington, D.C., largely due to the area’s active philanthropic community. Not far from St. Louis’ urban core are the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozark Mountain region and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, and spelunking in some of Missouri’s more than 6,000 caves.

Metropolitan St. Louis is a diverse community and local residents take pride in the region. The area has many strengths and assets but St. Louis is also grappling with some of the same challenges as other post-industrial cities like segregation, housing concerns, malnutrition, and gun violence. In recent years, St. Louis and neighboring Ferguson have become a flashpoint of protests around racial disparities in law enforcement. The death of Michael Brown and the subsequent acquittal of the officer involved brought a wave of street protests to Ferguson that had effects on the city, the university, and the nation. Some Washington University students joined in these protests and took coordinated action. Student involvement in these efforts has become an important foundation for their civic and community engagement. Additionally, Washington University was engaged with and represented on the Ferguson Commission, the body charged with making recommendations to address the conditions highlighted by the protests. There is an important role for faculty and students in addressing some of these recommendations by contributing to new science-based solutions to seemingly intractable social and health challenges, often predicted by race; these are prime targets for university collaborative scientific efforts.

Washington University is an essential institution for St. Louis and the city’s prosperity is essential to Washington University. The university has provided innovative leadership and the entire region counts on the university as a key partner for its success.

Commitment to Diversity

Over the last four years Washington University has deepened its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2015, following a semester of campus activism and dialogue after the events in Ferguson, former Chancellor Wrighton and former Provost Thorp established a Steering Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. The Committee produced a report that defined a two-year, 12-point action plan that included the establishment of a Diversity Commission to implement the resulting strategy. The Commission’s Report was delivered in June 2017 and includes 19 individual reports that touch on all parts of the university community.

As one of his first major initiatives, Chancellor Martin has announced the creation of the university-wide Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity, which was the first priority identified by the Commission’s Report. The new inter- and trans- disciplinary center will bring synergy to research already underway in these areas throughout the university — on the Danforth and Medical campuses — and be a driving force for further scholarship and collaboration. The center also will support student research, especially in the fields of Asian-American, Latinx and comparative race and ethnicity studies; attract visiting scholars; and create opportunities for collaboration among Washington University faculty, students, and members of the St. Louis community.

In addition, in 2018 Washington University launched the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion that supports university faculty and staff with programming, training, events, and other resources that aim to improve the campus climate of diversity and inclusion.



The provost and executive vice chancellor reports to the chancellor and is the chief academic officer of the university. The provost is a key member of Chancellor Martin’s newly created cabinet, which includes the executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, the executive vice chancellor for alumni and development, the executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer, the vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer, the vice chancellor for student affairs, the vice chancellor and general counsel, and the associate vice chancellor and chief of staff. The cabinet serves as a group of trusted advisors to the chancellor and assists him in university-wide strategy development and implementation. The provost is also a member of the University Council, the university’s senior leadership group.

As chief academic officer, the provost is broadly responsible for teaching, learning, scholarship, and research across the Danforth Campus, including academic planning, budgeting, and facilities. University-wide curricular and co-curricular activities spanning undergraduate and graduate education, accreditation, diversity, internationalization, and outreach also fall under the provost’s purview.

Reporting to the provost are the six academic deans of the Danforth Campus, the vice chancellor for research, the university librarian, the vice provost for undergraduate admissions & financial aid, and additional vice provosts. A number of center and institute directors as well as other units such as institutional research, the registrar, the Office of Student Success, and Title IX also report to the provost. Although not a direct report, the provost partners closely with the executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, especially on matters relating to cross-campus research, commercialization, and medical education.

In collaboration with the executive vice chancellor for administration, the provost has oversight for the university’s academic budget. Although primary responsibility for the budgets of the schools rest with their respective deans, the provost works closely with that group to set university-wide priorities, link them to the university capital campaigns, knit them together on institution-wide activities, and encourage their own entrepreneurial activity.


The selection of a new provost will be one of the most significant actions by Chancellor Martin as he embarks on his first full academic year in role. The next provost will have an exciting opportunity to partner with him, serving as a strategic thought partner and the leader of the academic enterprise to help shape the future of Washington University, one laser-focused on further academic excellence and distinction. As the higher education landscape changes, even highly selective institutions like Washington University aren’t immune to the pressures facing all colleges and universities across the country. To extend the upward arc of Washington University, the provost will work with the chancellor on the next strategic plan for the institution that will position it for continued future success.

Specifically, the provost will be expected to work with academic deans and faculty to elevate a number of academic programs to international renown and top distinction; further enhance Washington University’s deep commitment to student learning and success at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; and re-imagine the structure of the provost’s office to more strategically deploy resources that better align the office with the institution’s push toward excellence in research and education. Within these three overarching priorities, the provost will need to address a number of challenges and strive to use them as opportunities:

Provide leadership to increase academic excellence

As chief academic officer, the provost is charged with setting the academic strategy for the university in close collaboration with the chancellor, deans, faculty, and others across campus. Washington University seeks a visionary academic leader who can look ahead in the evolving academic landscape, anticipate emerging opportunities, and position the university to thrive in the near and long term. The provost will need to make strategic investments in programs and departments to leverage existing university strengths and ensure the university is well positioned to attract top scholars and teachers across all schools. In doing so, the provost must remain mindful of how these changes are rolled out and communicated to the campus community.

Recruiting and retaining top faculty

The quality of Washington University’s academic disciplines is essential to its scholarly mission and its national and international identity. While world-class excellence exists in many disciplines across the university, the institution still needs to enhance its investments in outstanding faculty, the graduate programs that are essential to their scholarly reputation, and the facilities that support them. The next provost will ensure success through careful investment, selective hires, and close partnerships with the deans and chairs. These efforts should collectively galvanize existing strengths and future potential, further enhancing the academic profile of the university. The diversity of the faculty is integral to this effort and the next provost must continue Washington University’s recent success in recruiting and retaining top scholars of color to support excellence.

One of the very first actions for the next provost is the selection of a new dean of Arts & Sciences following Dean Barbara Schaal’s announcement to step down at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. This will be a critical hire for Washington University. The next Dean of Arts & Sciences will be charged with modernizing the curriculum and pedagogy across Arts & Sciences, especially in science and mathematics, and strengthening the research profile of Arts & Sciences to ensure continued strength and competitiveness.

Expanding the research enterprise on the Danforth Campus

In addition to recruiting and retaining top faculty, the next provost will work with school deans to help promote increased research activity and funding on the Danforth Campus. Today, more than three-quarters of the university’s research funding comes from the School of Medicine. Academic programs on the Danforth campus will require attention, investment, and strategic decisions to improve their standing and impact. The university’s heightened national and international profile and its increasingly effective interdisciplinary work should be leveraged to further augment the institution’s contributions to the highest levels of national academic discourse.

Promoting interdisciplinary and cross-school investment

Washington University has developed strong interdisciplinary programs across the campus, linking the schools and promoting cutting-edge research at disciplinary interconnections, and the university looks to accelerate this trend in the future. The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) and the Institute of Public Health demonstrate the interdisciplinary appetite and strengths of the university. DBBS, a university-wide graduate program in place for close to 40 years, spans more than 30 departments with over 500 faculty and offers 12 doctoral training programs, ten of which are ranked among the nation’s top ten. The Institute of Public Health, more recently launched, is a university-wide initiative designed to transform the field of public health. Every academic unit at the university is represented in its ranks of more than 160 scholars from a broad range of academic disciplines. Looking to the future, the provost must continue to promote such activities, strategically allocating resources to further distinguish the academic strength and impact of the university.

In particular, the provost will need to identify opportunities for connections and partnerships between the Danforth Campus and the Medical Campus. The provost will be expected to create information sharing opportunities to encourage new forms of collaboration and to foster a stronger relationship between the two campuses.


Further enhance Washington University’s deep commitment to student learning and success

Washington University has a rich tradition of student centeredness with a focus on excellence in undergraduate and graduate student learning. The visibility and reputation of the university have grown as a consequence of the exceptional progress of its undergraduate program in particular, but competition for the best and brightest high school students, both across the U.S. and internationally, continues to grow. With an increasingly diverse student body, the provost must create structures that promote access to, and inclusion in, high-impact educational experiences and practices. Specifically, there is a need to enhance the undergraduate experience in many math and science programs to ensure the curriculum and pedagogy align with students’ expectations and current best practices.

The provost will play a critical role in enhancing the academic experience of all undergraduate students.  Through strategic planning and concentrated execution, the provost in partnership with the school deans improve the teaching and learning across the campus, with an intense focus on STEM disciplines. Special consideration will be given to involve more students in research, internships, and study abroad.  Another area of emphasis is providing a robust, modern, and innovative career services experience. The vice chancellor for student affairs will be an important partner to the provost in support of the University’s commitment to student learning and success.


Elevating the quality and reputation of the graduate and professional schools

The provost will play a central role in doing for the graduate enterprise what has been done at the undergraduate level – providing resources to ensure students have unparalleled academic and co-curricular experiences that drive the very best students to enroll. This is a critical priority for the university. Each of the seven schools has unique and high-quality programs and each has distinctive cultures and traditions. Recruitment of graduate and professional students is not coordinated centrally and Washington University must take advantage of every opportunity to heighten its appeal to the top graduate and professional students. Recruiting and retaining the very best faculty, expanding endowed professorships, building excellence in research programs, and growing scholarship and fellowship funding will contribute to this effort. In the next decade of leadership, the university needs to elevate the quality of a number of core disciplinary departments and will look to the provost for the academic leadership and intellectual judgment to achieve this end.

Strengthening the university’s welcome to an increasingly diverse student body

Washington University has worked explicitly to recruit undergraduate and graduate students from diverse ethnic, racial, and socio-economic communities. Progress has been made, but further investment of energy and resources will be required. The next provost must provide personal leadership of the university’s commitment to a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in its intellectual and community life, and across its student, faculty, and staff populations.


Reimagine the structure of the provost’s office

The provost has a large number of direct reports in the existing structure of the provost’s office. The next provost will have an opportunity to re-imagine the organizational structure to better align the office to the university’s mission by adding or redefining positions, leveraging individual strengths, creating greater efficiencies, and encouraging creative thinking and innovative approaches to the work. The provost is also charged with continued development of the university’s analytics and institutional research capacity.  To be successful in these efforts, the provost will need to establish trust across the campus, building bridges among academic divisions by serving as a reliable conduit for information among institutional leaders, and promoting communication and direction among faculty, staff, and students.

Allocating resources and generating new resources

The university has a long tradition of decentralized academic planning and management. Faculty hiring, promotion, and the tenure process and policy, academic planning, and fiscal responsibility all reside primarily at the school level. As Washington University seeks to join the ranks of the world’s greatest universities and to consolidate the gains achieved over the last two decades, an increased level of central academic planning is needed. At the same time, nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity at the unit level is essential. The provost must lead the deans as they strengthen the finances of their schools in innovative ways that take advantage of revenue generation opportunities consistent with the university’s academic values and institutional priorities. Striking a balance between these two institutional aims – strategic academic planning and sustained unit independence – is a central task for the new provost.


Washington University seeks in its next provost a scholarly leader with intellectual vision, a world view, a collegial leadership style, and the energy and integrity to inspire the university community to new levels of excellence. Candidates should have a history of academic leadership, the ability to build and cultivate consensus in a university and its programs, and accomplishment in creating and supporting a climate of community, understanding, mutual respect, and a deep and demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. The search committee seeks candidates with the following experience and abilities:

  • An experienced, deliberative, accessible, and entrepreneurial academic administrator with a track record of success in a complex research institution, preferably in an institution that has life sciences or medical schools.
  • A deep respect for faculty and a clear commitment to undergraduate and graduate education; an effective partner with and advocate for the faculty.
  • Strong management, planning, and financial skills; an astute understanding of university finances and the relationships between academic priorities, budgeting, and fundraising.
  • A deep track record that demonstrates a commitment to the value of diversity and successful experience fostering it; a history of cultivating an environment where diverse students, faculty, and staff can thrive
  • A record of leading the successful recruitment and retention of a superb faculty, and of significant contribution to the growth of innovative programs, departments, and/or schools.
  • An interdisciplinary thinker committed to harnessing and facilitating the potential of collaborative activities across institutional and disciplinary boundaries.
  • A nuanced understanding of sponsored research activity in an academic setting, and an eye for creative opportunities tied to a commitment to accountability and results.
  • Demonstrated experience in external-facing work as it relates to the academic enterprise, including fundraising for new academic programs and student financial aid, community engagement, and commercialization.
  • An understanding of how to recruit and admit exceptionally talented and diverse students in a highly competitive admissions environment.
  • Outstanding listening and communication skills; an articulate communicator who can inspire and engage others to support the vision for the university.
  • A collaborator and a convener; the capacity to build consensus and develop an overarching vision, and to motivate and inspire others to assure its realization.
  • An earned doctorate or equivalent terminal degree and a record of distinguished scholarship and teaching requisite for an appointment as a tenured full professor.



Washington University in St. Louis has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this search. Confidential inquiries, nominations, referrals, and resumes with cover letters should be sent in confidence to:

Ponneh Varho, Partner

Jeff Kessner, Managing Associate


Electronic submission of materials is strongly encouraged.

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to providing equal opportunity to all qualified individuals in its employment and personnel practices. The university practices affirmative action by taking assertive steps to recruit, hire and promote minorities, females, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.