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GU announces new Provost
On Tuesday, President John DeGioia announced the appointment of the University’s next Provost and Executive Vice President, Professor Robert M. Groves. A professor at the University of Michigan, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau since 2009, and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, Groves will assume office on Aug. 20.
Over the past month, the search committee for the Provost narrowed the 12 final candidates down to five, and conducted two-day interviews where each candidate was introduced to important members of the Georgetown administration, faculty, and community.
Professor Wayne Davis, president of the faculty senate, was one of the leading members of the search committee. “Any one of the five candidates would’ve been absolutely outstanding, but pretty much the general consensus with Bob Groves was that he was the superior candidate in all respects,” he said. “They were all extremely accomplished scholars but his certified record is really beyond compare.”
One of the primary aims of the search committee was to find a Provost with a background in the sciences. According to Davis, no current faculty or administration on the main campus is a part of the National Academy of Sciences.
Furthermore, Davis said, Groves’s role as Director of the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrated his strong management skills. “Getting a job done that people thought was going to fail, and getting it done under budget, significantly under budget, without horrendous political firestorms or scandal…indicated that he’s got pretty good administrative, political, people skills,” he said.
Davis said the fact that Groves was not a Jesuit was “not a relevant characteristic,” and noted that the past four Georgetown Provosts have not been Jesuits either.
During the interview process, Groves indicated a serious interest in the Intellectual Life Reports as well as a committed interest in working closely with the medical center.
In February, the search committee held a town hall to inform students on the details and process for interviewing and finding a candidate for Provost. “It is true that the Provost’s main role is with deans and faculty and the President, but we did get the impression that he will be more actively involved with students,” Davis said. “We got the impression that he … will go out and meet the students and interact, find out what’s going on in their minds.”
Some students at the town hall expressed a desire to see more diversity in the search for a Provost. Davis mentioned that the pool of candidates was “a remarkably diverse pool,” with “men and women, a mixture of races, with Asians and African Americans.”
The first tasks facing the Provost this summer will be improving University-neighborhood relations and instating the enrollment caps imposed by the District government.
“One of the things we liked about his approach was that…the way to solve these problems is to work with the neighbors long before the official planning approval comes, you start developing relationships, walk around the neighborhood,” Davis said. “Who knows, maybe it’ll work a lot better.”