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Burish named provost

Kate Antonacci | Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Board of Trustees elected 1972 Notre Dame graduate Thomas Burish to the position of University Provost on July 21, following the July 1 departure of Nathan Hatch, who held Notre Dame’s second-ranking administrative post for nine years.”The wonderful thing about Tom Burish is he brings a really remarkable résumé [and] aset of experiences, as an academic and in the administration,” University President Father John Jenkins said Tuesday.Burish, formerly the president of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., is now the chief academic officer of Notre Dame, overseeing all academic programs and functions.”His responsibilities range from appointing and promoting faculty to setting the budgets for academic departments, colleges and institutes,” Associate Provost Dennis Jacobs said.Additionally, Burish must ensure “the budgeting process supports the academic mission and priorities of the University,” Jacobs said.Though Burish is familiar with Notre Dame’s academic mission, he may need time to get reacquainted with the University.”He will need to take time to learn [what] ND is today,” said Father James McDonald, senior executive assistant and counselor to the president. “As he himself says often, the Notre Dame he left as a senior in 1972 is not the Notre Dame of 2005.”But he will hit the ground running, for he has experience as a provost and as a president of a distinguished university.”A search committee comprised of five faculty members and a student was elected by Academic Council last spring and chaired by Jenkins over the summer to identify promising candidates, Jacobs said. All interviews and deliberations were conducted in strict confidence.Burish said, after being identified by the committee, that he was initially drawn to the position because of the University’s Catholic affiliation – the same characteristic that drew him to the school as an undergraduate over 30 years ago.”The challenge of wrapping together our faith-based heritage while further strengthening our academic excellence is a rare opportunity and, for me, a special dream,” Burish said in a University press release announcing his appointment. “I did not anticipate this opportunity or seek it but am excited by it and am grateful for it.”Jenkins said that Burish, a clinical psychology scholar, brings extensive experience to Notre Dame, after serving as president at Washington and Lee and as provost at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.”In both of these roles, Dr. Burish excelled as a strategic leader,” Jacobs said. “He has great vision for setting an ambitious academic agenda that builds on the distinctive characteristics of the institution.”In addition to his studies at Notre Dame, Burish, a native of Peshtigo, Wisc., received master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology and clinical psychology from the University of Kansas in 1975 and 1976, according to the press release.Jenkins said Burish’s connection to Notre Dame makes him a great asset.”He’s a Notre Dame graduate whose son graduated from Notre Dame last May,” Jenkins said. “He understands Notre Dame, he’s deeply committed to Notre Dame and its mission, so he brings a sense of that special character of the University, and really is coming for that reason.”Though Burish will not be on campus until after Labor Day, administrators in the provost’s office expressed excitement about his appointment.”I am looking forward to working with Dr. Burish,” said Assistant Provost Joy Vann-Hamilton. “In my brief interactions with him, I have found him easy to engage and to have a wonderful sense of humor, which is vital.”Most importantly, he asks the right questions and listens, which has and will lend to his understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the University.”Upon his arrival, Burish will meet with campus leaders to learn more about the successes, opportunities and challenges before him, Jacobs said. “Although it is premature to identify the specific short-term goals of the provost’s office, we in the provost’s office are working in partnership with the academic units to implement the goals of the Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Trustees,” Jacobs said.Burish, who has served as the chair of the American Cancer Society’s national board of directors since 2004, succeeded Hatch, who notified the University in January that he would be leaving Notre Dame to become president of Wake Forest University.