Emory Provost to Lead Mellon Foundation

Earl Lewis will leave the university at the end of this year

Parting Words; "While the work is never complete, it is reassuring to know that Emory will take the lead in trying to redefine the place of liberal arts education in the modern research university."

Kay Hinton

One of the nation’s most powerful cultural forces for the support of higher education and the humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City, has elected Emory Provost Earl Lewis to be its new president, beginning early next year.

“It saddens me personally, but delights me for his sake, to announce that in January, Earl will leave Emory for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where he will become president upon the retirement of Don Michael Randel in March of 2013,” said President James Wagner in a letter to the Emory community in May. “The mission of the Mellon Foundation, Earl’s profound commitment to the liberal arts and to higher education, and the rich experience of the past eight years at Emory all combine to make the collaboration of Mellon and Lewis perfectly fitting.”

The Mellon Foundation’s outgoing board chair, Anne M. Tatlock, said she spoke for the board in expressing “enormous pleasure” at the appointment.

“Earl’s clear strategic thinking, ability to focus on the critical issues relating to the humanities, as well as his broad experience as a teacher, scholar, and leader at major public and private research universities over more than two decades, uniquely positions him to lead the Mellon in its mission,” Tatlock said.

Before coming to Emory in July 2004 as provost, executive vice president for academic affairs, and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies, Lewis served as dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for academic affairs and graduate studies at the University of Michigan. He is author or coeditor of seven books and was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008.

“We at Emory can be gratified by all that we have accomplished under Earl’s executive leadership in academic affairs,” said Wagner. “With his guidance, we developed and have implemented a clear and effective strategic plan that laid the foundation for the largest fund-raising campaign in Georgia’s history. He oversaw the restructuring of our undergraduate admissions programs, resulting in the largest pool of applicants in Emory College history this year.”

Lewis’s support of Emory’s libraries has helped make the university one of the foremost sites in the country for digital humanities scholarship, Wagner added, while at the same time strengthening traditional collections in literary works, African American archives, and Southern history. He appointed seven of Emory’s nine current deans as well as leaders in technology transfer and information technology. Lewis also enhanced both the processes and the outcomes of reviewing faculty appointments and academic programs, Wagner said.

“Although my tenure as provost will come to an end with the close of the calendar year,” Lewis said, “my love for this institution will long endure and my faith in its ability to lead on many fronts continues to grow.”

Learn more about the Mellon Foundation.

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