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Patrick Farrell to return to faculty, interim named to Office of the Provost

December 11, 2008 By Brian Mattmiller

Patrick Farrell, who has served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since April 2006, will return to the College of Engineering faculty at the end of the fall semester.

Farrell, who was appointed provost by former Chancellor John D. Wiley, has a 25-year history of teaching, research and leadership in the College of Engineering, which he joined in 1982 as a member of the mechanical engineering faculty. Farrell was named the college’s associate dean for academic affairs in 2001, then was named executive associate dean in 2005, before joining the central UW–Madison administration.

“Pat has provided the university with steady leadership over several years and with continuity during this semester,” says Chancellor Carolyn  “Biddy” Martin. “He is a talented administrator, and I am very grateful for his service to the campus.”

A search committee for a new provost will be appointed soon. Beginning in January, School of Education Dean Julie Underwood will serve as interim provost through the full course of the search process. Underwood has been UW–Madison’s education dean since summer 2005. Before joining UW–Madison, Underwood was general counsel and associate executive director of the National School Boards Association.

“I am grateful for Julie’s willingness to take on this interim role,” Martin says. “We will work together to insure progress continues on current top priorities such as the budget, research infrastructure and the strategic framework.”

Serving as interim dean of the School of Education for Underwood will be Adam Gamoran, the school’s current associate dean for research and director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

Gamoran will continue to advance the priorities that the school has pursued under Underwood, including reorganizing the school’s outreach, partnerships and technology services; overseeing the renovation and addition of the Education Building on Bascom Hill; and planning for a new art building adjacent to the new Art Lofts facility near the Kohl Center.

One of Farrell’s priorities as provost was to develop a more strategic vision for the campus. To that end, Farrell managed the university’s two-year reaccreditation self-study initiative, which included input from thousands of people on and off campus, and the resulting work on a strategic framework for the university’s next decade.

Other accomplishments by Farrell include leading the complex effort to define “The Wisconsin Experience” as a recognized set of learning outcomes expected of all UW–Madison graduates. Farrell also served as a strong advocate for student access and affordability, both as a policy advocate and by working personally with individual and corporate donors.

In engineering, Farrell also served as the director of the Engine Research Center from 1999-2001. His research focuses on fluid mechanics, combustion and optical methods as they relate to engine design and function. He was part of the original team that developed an innovative hands-on design course for freshman engineers and is a fellow of the UW–Madison Teaching Academy.

Underwood, a nationally recognized authority on school law, became the eighth dean of the School of Education in August 2005. She taught at UW–Madison from 1986-95 on the faculty of the Department of Educational Administration (now Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis). She returned to Madison in 2005 after serving from 1995-98 as dean of Miami University’s School of Education and Allied Professions and from 1998-2005 as associate executive director and general counsel for the National School Boards Association in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored that Chancellor Martin has asked me to serve campus in an interim capacity as provost. I am prepared to do my part to make her and the university successful,” says Underwood. “I am convinced we have others in the School of Education who will step up during this interim period.”

Underwood adds that she has no plans to be a candidate for the position. “I love my position as dean of the School of Education. I left my job in Washington, D.C., to serve the school, public education and this university,” she says.

Gamoran, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies, has directed WCER, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most influential university-based education research and development centers, since 2004, and has been a WCER faculty associate since 1985. He chaired the sociology department from 2001-2004. He was elected in 2001 to the National Academy of Education.

As chief academic officer, the provost helps steer long-term academic direction through close collaboration with the deans of UW–Madison’s 12 schools and colleges. The provost also is responsible for faculty and staff development and diversity initiatives and enrollment management, and is the point person for shared governance. The provost also acts as chief executive officer of the university in the chancellor’s absence.