University Leadership Updates

May 31, 2023

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Thank you all for your many contributions throughout the spring semester that was capped by a spectacular Commencement in Arizona Stadium three weeks ago. I hope you are able to find some down time in the months ahead and recharge, as the 2023-2024 academic year will be upon us before we know it. 

With our sustained success in mind and following my May 1 announcement regarding several leadership and organizational changes, today I want to share with you multiple interim leadership appointments that will ensure continuity and best position the University of Arizona to further advance its mission. 

Office of the Provost 

As Provost Liesl Folks steps away from her administrative post, I want to thank her again for capably leading the Office of the Provost for the past four years and for agreeing to continue in her capacity as an Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty member to establish a new Center for Semiconducting Manufacturing. We appreciate Provost Folks’ varied accomplishments since her arrival in 2019 and her ongoing contributions to our University community.

Please join me in welcoming a familiar face to the role of Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost: Ronald W. Marx, Professor of Educational Psychology and Dean of Education Emeritus. Dr. Marx will step into this interim leadership position July 1.

I greatly appreciate the valuable input provided by so many faculty and staff members and students over the past several weeks as I considered potential candidates for this important interim role. With his extensive experience at the University, deep relationships throughout our faculty ranks, familiarity with academic leadership dynamics, and strong connections to the local community, Dr. Marx is perfectly suited to head the Office of the Provost in the months ahead, as we commence a comprehensive and inclusive national search to identify a new permanent provost. Dr. Marx’s background as a successful dean, widely published interdisciplinary researcher, effective fundraiser, and civic-minded contributor locally will be especially beneficial in moving our academic and service-oriented programs forward. 

Dr. Marx, who already has begun meeting with faculty and staff, will expand his engagement with stakeholders across the University community throughout the summer. Reporting to and directly advising me, he will serve alongside peers and colleagues as a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

Research, Innovation, and Impact

It is my privilege to lead a round of collective congratulations for Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Betsy Cantwell, who was selected this month by the Utah Board of Higher Education to serve as Utah State University’s 17th president. Since 2019, Dr. Cantwell has spearheaded our RII enterprise as it has grown significantly to surpass $800 million in research expenditures, opened new cutting-edge facilities, and amassed numerous accolades. While Dr. Cantwell will be missed, we are thrilled for her as she steps forward to lead USU. 

Effective August 1, Elliott Cheu, Associate Vice President for University Research Institutes in RII and a professor with an appointment in Physics, will serve as Interim SVP for Research and Innovation as a national search proceeds to identify candidates for the permanent executive leadership role. Dr. Cheu has experience in guiding teams through transition periods, as he previously led the College of Science as interim dean prior to the arrival of Dean Carmala Garzione in 2021. 

I look forward to Research, Innovation, and Impact extending its impressive trajectory into the upcoming academic year under Dr. Cheu’s leadership.

Arizona International

With a broad portfolio centered on serving students across the globe and on our in-state campuses, Arizona International will soon experience leadership changes affecting its primary offices, International Affairs and International Education.

Coinciding with the resignation this summer of Daniel Palm, Associate Vice President for International Affairs, and the June 30 completion of the tenure of International Education’s current head, Dean JP Jones, I am pleased to share that Jenny Lee, Professor in Educational Policy Studies and Practice and a member of the general faculty and graduate faculty, will lead and integrate both teams as Interim Vice President for Arizona International and Dean for International Education, effective July 1.

Dr. Lee, an internationally recognized expert of international education, has long dedicated her 20-year career at the University to advancing the international higher education profession globally. She will focus on an effective transition in the weeks ahead, working closely with Dean Jones and AVP Palm, whose contributions over the past two years we appreciate. Dr. Jones will remain on the leadership team as a special advisor to Arizona International for the remainder of the calendar year to assist in the transition.

With strong, experienced teams already in place, Arizona International will continue to excel under the guidance of Dr. Lee, who shares our commitment to bolstering our worldwide partnerships and microcampus locations, serving international and domestic students on campus and abroad, and engaging our faculty and global alumni in more than 150 countries around the world.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped advance the University of Arizona over the past academic year. I look forward to seeing all that we will accomplish together in the next chapter.

Have a great summer, and Bear Down.

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.

The University of Arizona​​


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