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Committee to review provost

John Tierney | Friday, October 30, 2009

A committee composed of students and faculty is reviewing the performance of Provost Thomas Burish, who serves as the University’s highest-ranking academic officer.

The performance review is part of a process mandated by the bylaws of the University, according to committee chair Neil Delaney, who is also the director of the Arts and Letters Honors Program and a professor of philosophy.

“All academic officers have to be reviewed every five years,” Delaney said. “Our job is to try to get an overall sense of the University’s development under the provost’s direction,” he said.

Burish will be judged according to the job description University President Fr. John Jenkins has outlined. This description includes enhancing the University’s standing as a research university, upholding the Catholic character of the University and maintaining high standards in undergraduate education.

The performance review committee plans to interview the University’s current deans and former deans who served during Burish’s tenure. The committee will also interview associate provosts and other University officers who interact frequently with Burish.

“We’re going to focus on the people who would know what he’s implementing first hand,” Delaney said.

The committee distributed surveys about Burish’s performance to faculty and students. Few of these surveys have been completed, according to Delaney.

“There never is a big outflow of concern,” he said.

Delaney said few students or faculty have any interaction with the provost.

“But we have a general view of how we think things are going,” he said. “What we thought is that students might have views as to how the University is going academically.”

The committee does not expect that students would have personal opinions on Burish, Delaney said.

The performance review committee is composed of individuals elected from the Academic Council, plus several appointed by Jenkins to balance the committee across the five colleges.

Delaney said the committee hopes to complete its review by the end of the semester.
Burish, the University’s fourth provost, has held his position since 2005. He previously served as president of Washington and Lee University and as provost of Vanderbilt University. He is a 1972 alumnus of Notre Dame.

The Office of the Provost was established in 1970 to oversee the academic functions of the University.

Dr. Nathan Hatch preceded Burish as provost, serving from 1996-2005.

Burish deferred comment on his tenure as provost until after the completion of the performance review.