President Lee C. Bollinger has selected Nancy Cantor to be the University's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. He will submit his recommendation for approval of her appointment to the Regents at their meeting this week.
If approved, the appointment will be effective Sept. 1. Cantor currently serves as vice provost for academic affairs-graduate studies and dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. She is also a professor of psychology.
"Dean Cantor is not only a highly distinguished scholar and teacher, with impressive knowledge of the university world, but also a person widely admired for her character and capacity to work sensitively and effectively with many groups of people. That she bears deep affection for the University of Michigan is a special plus as well. The prospect of working with Nancy in the years ahead is as bright a future as I can imagine," Bollinger said.
In an e-mail message last week to faculty and staff, Bollinger said, "Nancy's administrative work has been marked by a creative blend of broad vision and attention to detail, along with great compassion in her relationships with people. She is deeply respected by those with whom she works, and by those who work for her. Her academic vision, her organizational ability, and her understanding of this University and of higher education in general will make her, I believe, an ideal provost for Michigan at this time."
"Bernie Machen has won the hearts and the admiration of all of us in serving with such devotion and distinction as provost during the past two years," Bollinger added. "He has been particularly helpful in easing my transition into this office, for which I am deeply grateful. The University is in his debt."
Bollinger appointed a faculty-student advisory committee last spring to conduct a search for a new provost, following Machen's announcement that he intends to return to the faculty. Bollinger chaired the advisory committee.
The president also noted in his e-mail message that, "the selection of Dr. Cantor is the result of a fast-paced, rigorous process that identified a number of very strong internal and external candidates who were approached or interviewed by the Search Advisory Committee. I would like to express my deep thanks to the committee for its outstanding work during this process."
Richard I. Ford, professor of anthropology and biology and a member of the faculty-student advisory committee, said, "I am delighted to learn that President Bollinger has selected Dean Cantor to be the next provost of the University. It has been my pleasure to work with Nancy many times over the years. She is extremely sensitive to the needs of others and she will undoubtedly carry this very personal aspect of her life to this position. Nancy is an internationally respected scholar in psychology whose work has led to many major appointments, including several commissions in Washington, D.C. Her outstanding knowledge of the various scientific agencies will be very useful as she works with faculty from all parts of the campus."
Speaking with the Record last week, Cantor said the provost "plays a particularly important role as a facilitator, in bringing together all sides of the University community-faculty, staff and students-and making sure all voices from throughout the community are heard." The provost also "provides direction with respect to the academic and financial aspects of the University and they ways in which the two intertwine," she noted.
Cantor will place a high priority on "collaborative work that brings together those individuals who can share their particular expertise or offer an important perspective," for which she has developed a model as dean of the Graduate School.
She plans to use this model in working with the deans and faculty of the schools and colleges, and hopes to draw in representatives of student and staff groups as well for discussions of issues that affect them.
Cantor, who received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1978 and her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1974, became assistant professor of psychology at Princeton and was promoted to associate professor in 1981.
In 1983, she came to the U-M as associate professor of psychology. She was area chair of personality psychology in 1984-88, was named professor in 1987, served as a research scientist in the Research Center for Group Dynamics in the Institute for Social Research in 1987-91, and was associate dean for faculty programs in the Graduate School in 1989-91. She left the U-M in 1991 to teach at Princeton, where she was chair of the Department of Psychology. Cantor assumed her duties as Rackham dean July 1, 1996.
Bollinger has asked Earl Lewis, senior associate dean at the Graduate School and professor of history and of Afroamerican and African studies, to serve as interim dean.
"I am delighted that someone of Earl Lewis's caliber can step in to fill the important role of dean of Rackham. He is a highly regarded scholar who will provide strong leadership during this important period. I have the greatest admiration for him both personally and professionally," Bollinger said.
Details regarding a search for dean of the Graduate School will be forthcoming.