University selects Vincent Price as next provost


Interim provost chosen from about 180 candidates




The search for Penn's next provost is over: Vincent Price will take the reins as the University's 29th provost, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced this afternoon.

Price is currently interim provost and a professor of communication in the Annenberg School. He will succeed former Provost Ron Daniels, who left Penn this February to serve as president of Johns Hopkins University.

"There's no other place I'd want to work," said Price, who attributed his selection to his deep understanding of and experience at Penn.

"He's an eminent scholar and seasoned administrator, has done a spectacular job as interim provost, has a great understanding of student and faculty issues alike, has an excellent relationship with faculty and students on campus, truly loves Penn and is very ambitious for Penn," said Gutmann, who added that she expects a seamless transition.

A search committee chaired by Wharton Dean Thomas Robertson led the search process, which took five and a half months compared with the standard six-to-nine month period to appoint a high-level university administrator. Executive search firm Isaacson, Miller also helped conduct the search.

According to Gutmann, the committee sought "somebody who has it all"-an eminent scholar, a collaborative leader and a great partner-for the position. In an international search, about 180 candidates were considered and 12 were interviewed before Price was selected.

This is the first time in Penn's history that an interim provost or president has been chosen for the position, according to Director of University Archives Mark Frazier Lloyd.

Daniels considered that fact "not at all surprising," citing Price's highly judicious character and academic standards as well as his energy.

Price, who came to Penn 11 years ago from the University of Michigan, earned a Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford University and received his B.A. in English from Santa Clara University.

Price will begin the provost position with the added advantage that he will "hit the ground running," said Gutmann, as he has gained a close understanding of faculty and student issues from his current work. Gutmann highlighted the University's response-which Price led-to the recent meningitis and measles outbreaks on campus as an example of Price's leadership.

However, she added that being interim provost per se did not give Price a leg up in the search process, which Gutmann called "truly open" and more extensive than any other search in the past due to the high number of strong candidates.

In the previous search Penn conducted for a senior-level administrator, Denis Kinane was appointed Dean of the School of Dental Medicine in February after a four month search.

As chief academic officer, the provost is responsible for coordinating all facets of Penn related to academic programs, research and student life and oversees the University's 12 schools and deans.

Price said his first step will be to consult broadly and learn the hopes and expectations of faculty, deans and students.

He listed supporting international internships and increasing undergraduate research as some of his highest priorities, and also said he hopes to take advantage of new opportunities to bring arts and culture to campus as a way of connecting Penn to the city and region. Price will also seek a replacement to fill his current role as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs.

Gutmann added that she expects Price to further advance the Penn Compact as the school's overarching mission, as well as continue to build interdisciplinary ties, strengthen financial aid and increase engagement internationally.

And in response to concerns that Daniels' perceived strong affinity with the undergraduate body would depart with him, Gutmann said that Price, whose daughter Sarah is a current undergraduate, will work to maintain close relationships with students.

"One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is working with all constituents instead of focusing only on faculty affairs," said Price.

Price will formally assume office on July 1, following ratification of his selection by the University Board of Trustees at their June meeting.

Updated: May 28, 2009 11:44 a.m.

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