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A New Role for a Colleague

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I write to follow up on an announcement that I made at the October Faculty Meeting, related to our work of implementing the strategic plan adopted by the faculty and Board of Trustees last spring. As I indicated at the meeting, the provost holds the lead position on campus for this work, while I hold final accountability to the Board. This is a long-term and large-scale project, and I need to focus additional efforts on development and alumni relations in concert with our colleagues in University Advancement, our four deans and the provost, and many others. This is especially true given our desire to launch our next campaign within three years, at the latest.

After consulting with many colleagues, including with the deans and the faculty chair, I determined that we needed a senior-level academic leader to help all of us with this important project. As I said at the recent faculty meeting, I don’t think you can hire such a person from the outside without a long start-up period. Fortunately, we have someone right at home who is deeply knowledgeable, broadly respected, a member of the academy and, happily, is looking for a new challenge.

Thus, I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Robert Midkiff as our first vice president for strategic initiatives, effective immediately and reporting jointly to the president and the provost. Robert’s work here over the past three decades has established his credentials with faculty, staff, students, parents and the Board, and Elisabeth and I are delighted that he was willing to take on this new set of responsibilities. Robert will join the Operations & Management Group and remain a member of the Provost’s Council.

I was delighted that this announcement was met with such warmth at the October faculty meeting, and happier still that Robert was willing to take on such an important set of new challenges. As time allows, please offer Robert your thanks and congratulations.

My best,


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