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Brandeis alumna named provost

President Ron Liebowitz announced that Brandeis has hired Dr. Carol Fierke PhD ’84 as the new university provost and executive vice president, a role currently held by Provost and Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy Lisa Lynch, in an email sent on Nov. 30 to the Brandeis community. Fierke will fill the role as provost beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

“I … became grounded in Brandeis’ founding values of academic excellence, openness and commitment to repairing the world,” said Fierke, according to a BrandeisNOW article

Fierke has had extensive prior experience in higher education, working most recently as the executive vice president and provost at Texas A&M University since 2017 and also previously served as vice provost, dean and chair of the chemistry department at the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School.

“Dr. Fierke is already a champion of the values that have defined the Brandeis community since 1948,” said Liebowitz, according to a BrandeisNOW article

Fierke has been the recipient of multiple awards in her field including: the American Chemical Society’s Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes, the Protein Society’s Emil Thomas Kaiser Award and the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, according to a Diverse Education article.  

She has also done research projects funded by The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Office of Naval Research, the Keck Foundation and the Welch Foundation, according to the BrandeisNOW article. 

Her background in scholarship is important for an R1 research university (universities that have the highest research activity), according to Prof. Isaac Kraus (CHEM), a member of the search committee for the new provost, according to a BrandeisNOW article

The search for a replacement for Lynch has taken the university nine months, according to the email. The provost search committee began its national search in March 2020 and was led by Susan Birren (BIOL/NBIO/PSYCH), the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience, and was composed of 11 other upper administrators and professors, wrote Liebowitz. Input from faculty, staff and students was also considered when looking at candidates for the position.

“I am so pleased to welcome Dr. Fierke as our new provost,” said Birren in a press release announcing Fierke’s appointment. “It was very clear in our search that Dr. Fierke was an excellent choice for Brandeis.” 

The Brandeis community will have virtual opportunities to meet the new provost over the coming weeks, according to Liebowitz.

Fierke’s role as provost will make her the university’s chief academic officer, responsible for overseeing teaching, learning, scholarship and research across varying departments of the university, including educational activities and research initiatives, according to the provost search page. The provost is expected to work in tandem with the university president and executive vice president on matters regarding administration and finance, according to the description.  

Lynch had initially announced that she would be stepping down from her role as provost in Jan. 2020, and was preparing to go on sabbatical as late as Feb. 2020, after holding the position for 12 years. 

On April 3, Liebowitz announced that Lynch would be staying on as provost until Dec. 2020 as part of Brandeis’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. As of a Sept. 24 email from Liebowitz summing up the Board of Trustees meeting, the university had still been searching for a new provost prior to Fierke’s appointment.

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