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Michael R. Halleran named William & Mary Provost

  • The fifth Provost of the College of William & Mary
    The fifth Provost of the College of William & Mary  Michael Halleran will join The Tribe July 1, 2009 when he assumes the position of chief academic officer.  Photo courtesy of Michael Halleran.
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Michael R. Halleran, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, has been named the College of William & Mary’s fifth provost, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley announced today.

A distinguished scholar of classical studies and a highly successful administrator and fundraiser at both public and private institutions, Halleran comes to William & Mary after serving the past four years as dean of the University of Miami’s largest academic division. Pending approval by the William & Mary Board of Visitors in April, Halleran will begin his new post on July 1, 2009. He succeeds P. Geoffrey Feiss, who will retire on June 30.

“All of us at William & Mary are truly grateful to Geoff Feiss for his years of splendid service to the College, first as dean of Arts & Sciences and then as provost,” Reveley said. “I believe in Michael Halleran we have found a worthy successor. Dr. Halleran is a teacher, scholar, and academic administrator of compelling distinction. He is committed to the liberal arts and to the sense of community that characterize William & Mary. In my judgment, he will be an extraordinarily able provost.”

Halleran came to the University of Miami in 2005 to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes more than 4,000 undergraduate students, 600 graduate students and over 400 faculty. Prior to that, he had been at the University of Washington since 1983, where he served from 1997-2005 as divisional dean of arts and humanities. Halleran previously taught at Connecticut College and the College of the Holy Cross. He was a teaching fellow at Harvard University.

A native of New York City, Halleran earned his bachelor’s degree and graduated summa cum laude in 1975 from Kenyon College. He received his master’s degree (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) from Harvard University. His primary area of scholarship is ancient Greek drama, and he has published widely on Greek literature and culture.

“This is wonderful news for William & Mary — a real home run,” said Michael K. Powell, rector of the College. “As our next provost, Michael Halleran brings a unique blend of skills as a scholar, teacher and administrator that will serve us well during this critical time in the College’s history. We also owe current provost Geoff Feiss a great deal of gratitude for his dedication to William & Mary and his many achievements over the past decade.”

As provost of the nation’s second oldest institution of higher education, Halleran will be William & Mary’s chief academic officer. Among other tasks, he will be responsible for all academic and research programs, academic budgets, and faculty development.  With the vice presidents for finance and administration, he will also be responsible for the College’s overall budgetary planning. All William & Mary deans, and the directors of offices such as undergraduate admission, the registrar, and the chief information officer, report to the provost.

 “The College of William & Mary is one of the nation's great universities, and I am honored to serve as its next provost,” Halleran said.  “It combines a glorious past with a deep commitment to both student learning and scholarship, leading the country in being a ‘liberal arts university.’ I am excited at the possibilities for continued excellence and innovation.”

A committee of faculty and students conducted a national search for the next provost and brought finalists to campus in February. Halleran visited campus Feb. 26-27, meeting with a number of small groups and participating in a campus-wide faculty forum. Responses were overwhelmingly positive, said committee co-chairs Kathleen Slevin, Chancellor Professor of Sociology and Ronald Sims, Gottwald Professor of Business.

“Members of the Provost Search Committee are delighted to learn that Dean Michael Halleran has accepted the position of provost at William & Mary,” said committee co-chairs Sims and Slevin. “He is recognized for his visionary commitment to the mission and values of public higher education. A champion of liberal arts education, he is known for his thoughtfulness, his extraordinary intelligence and his collaborative leadership style. The committee looks forward to welcoming him to campus in the coming months.”

William & Mary Faculty Assembly President Tom White agreed.

“The William and Mary faculty strongly support the appointment of Michael Halleran as our next provost,” said White, adding Halleran connected immediately with faculty during his interviews on campus and presents a strong record of scholarship and administrative experience. “Dean Halleran quickly demonstrated an understanding of our current strengths and challenges.  In addition, he appears well-suited to help advance our academic mission by building on the effective model implemented by Geoff Feiss.”

As dean at Miami, Halleran's major accomplishments included hiring over 70 faculty members, securing outside support for the college’s research infrastructure and improving the undergraduate experience. For example, under Halleran’s leadership, Miami launched a new first-year seminar program, a summer writing institute, a student stipend program for summer research, and a program for students to learn less commonly taught languages (Directed Independent Language Study). He is also credited with improving the college’s hiring, tenure and promotion and review processes; enhancing cultural diversity; and leading a strategic planning effort. Under Halleran’s direction, several colleges and schools at the University of Miami worked together to successfully develop a program designed to recruit and retain women and underrepresented groups that received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. He is also known as an extraordinary fundraiser. During his tenure as dean, the College of Arts and Sciences’ annual fundraising increased from approximately $2 million a year to $7.6 million in 2007-08.

Halleran will succeed Geoff Feiss, who is retiring after more than a decade of service at William & Mary as a senior administrator – the past five-plus years as provost. Feiss came to William and Mary in 1997 as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He previously was senior associate dean for budgets and planning at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. During his tenure as provost, Feiss has led the College’s academic community through a transformation of many of its buildings, programs and curricula. Feiss — who, with his wife, Nancy West, will retire to their cabin near Fort Collins, Colo. — said he leaves William & Mary in good hands.

“Michael Halleran comes with the experience, credentials and personality to succeed as our next provost,” Feiss said. “I know he's the right person to work with President Reveley to lead William & Mary's academic excellence to the next level. I deeply value my time here at the College and the number of things we've accomplished over the past decade. It's comforting to know that my post will be filled by such a capable and exceptional individual.”

University presidents from across the country also applauded the choice of Halleran as William & Mary’s next provost. University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala said William & Mary is gaining an academic leader.

 “Michael Halleran brings to his new post the inquisitiveness of a fine scholar with the decisiveness of a seasoned administrator,” said University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala.  “The College of William & Mary has gained an academic leader and a truly wonderful, caring person as their new provost.”

John B. Simpson, president of the University at Buffalo, worked with Halleran for many years as a faculty member and administrative colleague at the University of Washington.

“I have tremendous respect for his vision and leadership,” Simpson said. “I came to value greatly his wise counsel and keen insights during our years working together.  He'll be a great asset to William & Mary, and I look forward to hearing about his achievements and contributions in this new leadership role.”

David Hodge, president of the Miami University in Ohio, called Halleran one of the most able university administrators he has ever met.

“Michael has great personal and professional values, and he is progressive and visionary in his leadership,” Hodge said. “He is highly collaborative and draws ideas from a wide range of perspectives.  He has a wry sense of humor and is intensely curious about everything.  I am certain that his new colleagues will be excited to work with him.”

Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick heralded Halleran as an "entrepreneurial leader."

"Michael Halleran is one of the brightest, most innovative, and thoroughly entrepreneurial academic leaders with whom I have ever worked. He will be an outstanding Provost at the College of William and Mary," McCormick said.

Halleran and his wife, Erin, a freelance writer, will reside in the Williamsburg area. They have three children -- Rebecca, who works in New York City; Tom, who’s finishing up undergraduate studies at the University of Miami; and Andy, 14.

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