Chico State names new interim provost

Mike Ward will serve as the new interim vice president and provost for Academic Affairs. Photo courtesy of Chico State

Mike Ward will serve as the new interim vice president and provost for Academic Affairs. Photo courtesy of Chico State

Gabriel Sandoval

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Mike Ward, former dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management, has been named the new interim vice president and provost for Academic Affairs, succeeding Susan Elrod who stepped down Wednesday.

President Paul Zingg made the announcement in an email to faculty and staff on March 22, explaining Ward will assume the role effectively on April 4 and “will serve in this capacity until a permanent provost has been identified through a national search,” which the next president, Gayle Hutchison, “will oversee when she assumes the Chico State presidency on July 1.”

Prior to the appointment, Ward served Chico State for more than 25 years. He’s been a professor of mechanical and mechatronic engineering, dean of the College of ECC and interim dean of the College of Business and College of Natural Sciences.

Elrod, who was appointed interim provost in Oct. 2014, announced in February she was leaving Chico State to become the provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, effective April 15.

In Aug. 2015, Zingg wrote in a campus-wide email that Elrod had been appointed as the permanent provost. Days later she declined the offer, and Zingg drew criticism from the campus community for making the appointment without consulting faculty and staff, a breach of shared governance, according to the Chico News & Review.

In Zingg’s email last week, the retiring president said he “appreciated” the input he received from the executive committee of the Academic Senate, deans and other campus personnel who informed the decision.

A consensus emerged in favor of Ward, Zingg said.

“(Ward) will provide invaluable assistance to president-designee Hutchinson during her transition time and will ensure a steady hand in the provost’s office in the period ahead before a permanent provost has been appointed,” Zingg said.

Ward will become the fourth person to fill the position since 2012, the fifth since 2007 and the sixth since 1994. Before Elrod was named interim provost, Belle Wei served as provost from Aug. 2012 to Sept. 2014, when she resigned.

Prior to Wei, Phyllis Fernlund was the interim provost, beginning in Feb. 2012. Fernlund took the reins after Sandra Flake resigned as provost in 2012. Flake became provost in 2007, succeeding Scott McNall, who served as provost from April 1994 to 2007 — a longer term than his five successors’, combined.

Gabriel Sandoval can be reached at [email protected] or @GLuisSandoval on Twitter.

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