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Surprise! Harris Named Interim Provost

Of no surprise to MetaEzra, David Harris, professor of Sociology -- Deputy Provost, and Vice-Provost of the Social Sciences -- has been announced interim provost of the University, beginning in September. But Harris is already saying he doesn't want the main gig:

Commenting on the news of his appointment, Harris praised Martin's eight-year tenure as provost and said: "It is an honor to be appointed interim provost of Cornell University. I will strive to advance the academic priorities that have been established by the faculty and endorsed by the academic leadership. My term as interim provost will be marked by steady progress. I do not have any interest in being considered as the next provost. This is not the right time in my life or in my career to pursue the position."

Whatever the reason for Harris choosing to exclude himself from the running, one can't help but notice the remarkable run he has had so far. Eleven years ago he was a freshly minted Sociology PhD. Today he is chief academic officer for one of the nation's premier research universities.

MetaEzra had been trying to get an interview with Harris for last six months. In light of recent developments, we don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

But never fear, a committee has been put together so that Harris can go back to his day job, hopefully by early 2009:

The search committee will be chaired by Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy Martha Haynes and will have the following members: Harry Katz, dean of the ILR School and J. Sheinkman Professor in Collective Bargaining; Carlos Bustamante, assistant professor of biological statistics and computational biology; Paulette Clancy, professor and the William C. Hooey Director of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Robert Frank, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and professor of economics; Sandra Greene, professor of history; Charles Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development; Ryan Lavin, president of the Student Assembly; Michelle Leinfelder, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly; and Brian Cornell, chair of the Employee Assembly. The committee will solicit nominations and applications this summer, and recommend finalists to Skorton by mid-fall.

Last year we speculated that there was a social-sciences subtext to the naming of Harris as deputy provost. And we can't help but think that there may be a social sciences subtext to the search committee as well, with three social scientists (counting Greene), three scientists, and no humanists. For what it is worth, the social sciences have been talked up in the recent year, as the University attempts to bolster its economics and government repertoire.

We're also told that this is the first time that there has ever been a search committee for a provost at Cornell. We wonder if that means there will be the possibility for an external candidate, although we doubt it. Cornell's way too complicated of a place for anybody other than an insider to become provost.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on June 18, 2008 (#)

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