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Notre Dame provost to step down next July

| Tuesday, August 27, 2019

University provost Thomas Burish will step down July 1, the administration announced in a press release Aug. 1. The date marks the end of Burish’s third five-year term in the position.

As provost, Burish is charge of all academic operations at Notre Dame, placing him at the head of all colleges, schools and institutes, as well as admissions, financial aid and advising. Provost is the second highest-ranking administrative role at Notre Dame, behind only University president.

During his 14 years at Notre Dame, Burish has expanded the University’s academic offerings, with a particular focus on its research and graduate programs, the release said.

From 2006 to 2017, investment in research rose from $79 million to $212 million. Likewise, investment in graduate studies “more than doubled,” helping fund 15 new programs. According to the release, this growth has contributed to a 25% increase in Graduate School applications.

Need-based aid has also grown from $60 million to $154 million under Burish. The student body has become more diverse, as well — the number of undergraduates who are either international students or students of color has risen from less than a quarter to more than a third.

In addition, Burish’s tenure saw the establishment of the Harper Cancer Research Institute in partnership with Indiana University-South Bend, as well as the creation of Innovation Park. The University also underwent a series of efforts to expand its global reach with the creation of Notre Dame International in 2010 and the Keough School of Global Affairs in 2014. Global Gateways were opened in Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, London and Rome, as well.

The release named the Inspired Leadership Initiative, an academic program for retirees, as another notable achievement under Burish. The program graduated its first class in May.

Board of Trustees chairman John Brennan said Burish was instrumental to a number of University initiatives during his time at Notre Dame.

“It is difficult to overstate the positive impact Tom has had on our University as provost,”  Brennan said in the release. “For nearly 15 years, he has guided the strategy and investments that enhanced our faculty and strengthened our scholarship to the great benefit of our undergraduate and graduate students, created new research programs and partnerships and significantly advanced Notre Dame’s academic reputation among the nation’s leading universities.”

As provost, Burish has helped make the University’s mission manifest, Jenkins said.

“Words cannot adequately express my gratitude and respect for Tom’s outstanding leadership, his visionary leadership of the academy, his commitment to our Catholic mission and his tireless efforts to make Notre Dame a truly great and truly distinctive university,” he said in the release. “Tom has been a transformative provost for Notre Dame, and for 15 years an invaluable colleague. He and his wife Pam have become dear friends. We have all benefited tremendously from his intellect, judgment, determination and selfless devotion to Notre Dame and its mission.”

Originally from Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Bush graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame in 1972. Before returning to the University, he served as provost at Vanderbilt for 10 years and as the president of Washington and Lee University for three.

In the release, Burish extended his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the University.

“It has been a great joy and privilege to return to my alma mater as provost and to be a part of Notre Dame’s distinctive excellence as a Catholic research university,” he said. “I have been honored to work with and learn from Father John and the Trustees, and with faculty, staff and administrative colleagues who have displayed ever-rising standards of service and excellence. And it has been a labor of love to work with students whose inspiring talent and principled goals constantly renew my hope in the future. In a career filled with countless blessings, serving the Notre Dame family is a gift which has given great meaning to my life.”

According to the release, the University will soon launch an international search for Burish’s replacement. A committee, chaired by Jenkins, will create a pool of potential candidates. The committee will feature faculty members and a student representative from the Academic Council.

The committee will recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees, which will then make a final selection.

A version of this story was published Aug. 1.

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