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An update on DePaul's provost search

Fall campus
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
​​​In times of uncertainty, we look for leadership and stability. At DePaul University, one point of steadiness that I have appreciated over the last two years has been the leadership of our interim provost, Salma Ghanem.

Salma started serving in the provost role in Oct. 2018 – first as acting and as interim since July 1, 2019. She has led the intellectual life of our university admirably. She has been a vocal and effective advocate for the academic enterprise and demonstrated an understanding of and support for our tradition of shared governance. I am particularly grateful for her continued dedication to our Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission.

The provost, as an executive officer of the university, is a board-appointed position based on the recommendation of the president. When the Board of Trustees approved Salma's appointment as interim provost, we set a goal of launching a national search in 2021 and welcoming a permanent provost by July 2022. We are now at the point of taking the next steps in this process.

However, much has changed in the world since we formulated our plan for the provost position. In light of the volatile and uncertain environment in which we now operate, and with the support of the Board of Trustees, I have asked that a committee of faculty, staff, a student and board members be convened to conduct an exhaustive formal review of the performance of the interim provost to determine if a national search is necessary. I made this recommendation to the board because in this critically important moment for DePaul, I believe it is important to have continuity of proven leadership. Salma has provided DePaul with consistent and forward-thinking leadership, under incredibly challenging circumstances, and so we will first consider her capacity to serve as the permanent provost.  

The Provost Review Committee will, at the conclusion of the review, submit to me a report that summarizes the strengths and areas for improvement of the interim provost.

The Provost Review Committee will be chaired by a trustee—the chairperson of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board—and include broad representation of campus constituents. The Provost Review Committee will include:

  • Five Trustees (including the committee chair)
  • Four tenured faculty members selected by Faculty Council (including the president of Faculty Council)
  • Two staff members selected by Staff Council (including one staff member in the Division of Academic Affairs)
  • One student selected by SGA
  • One dean
  • One representative from the Office of the Provost
  • One representative delegated by the President

The work of the Provost Review Committee will be supported by the Office of the Secretary.

The Provost Review Committee is expected to complete its work, and submit its report in early 2021, at which time I will make a recommendation to the full board.

I am grateful for the time and efforts this committee is about to undertake and appreciate the continued cooperation of DePaul's governing bodies. Regular updates about the review process will be shared with the university community.

Whether it's at the national level or within our own university, there is little doubt that leadership transitions are anxiety inducing. I ask our university community to reflect on the words of St. Vincent de Paul: “…patience and gentleness resolve everything with them, in time." As we continue to navigate uncertainties, please remember that our commitment to deliver an exceptional education to a diverse community of learners is one constant that will never change. Please be patient, be compassionate, and most of all, be kind.

Take care, DePaul.