Provost Carolyn Dever to return to teaching

by Rachel Pakianathan | 10/19/17 2:10am

Provost Carolyn Dever will step down as provost at the conclusion of the fall term, ending her three and a half year tenure. She will continue to serve as a faculty member in the English department, according to an Oct. 1 press release.

Dever said that now was a “good moment” to return to her academic roots, citing her 7-year-old child and her desire to continue her own research and teaching.

Dever has served as Dartmouth’s chief academic officer since July 1, 2014, when she came to the College after working as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Vanderbilt University for six years. An interim provost will be appointed in the next few weeks, followed by a search for a new provost, according to the press release.

“Hanlon is about to launch a capital campaign that is a marathon,” Dever said. “And it’s a moment for him to go forward with leadership that’s going to be here for the long haul.”

Dever said that her primary goal as provost was to help Dartmouth advance its academic mission and promote diversity and inclusivity.

“We added numerous postdoctoral scholars in areas of diversity across the campus,” she said. “And we’ve attracted a multi-million dollar grant from the [Andrew W. Mellon] Foundation in support of recruitment and development of underrepresented faculty in the humanities.”

She added that her office was instrumental in developing the Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence, an initiative comprised of three working groups focused on improving diversity among faculty, staff and students, respectively.

“[The Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence] was designed to hold the [College] to a series of commitments that would advance the culture on the campus around inclusivity, driven by an increase in diversity,” Dever said.

The 2017 Annual Report on Faculty Diversity & Inclusivity, published in winter 2017, reported that 73 percent of female faculty members and 83 percent of minority faculty members have contemplated leaving Dartmouth. The report said that women and minority faculty cited a “lack of sense of belonging” as their rationale more than any other reason.

The Action Plan set out to establish clear goals and methods of accountability for improving diversity at the College.

Dever said that the provost’s office has worked with Hanlon and the deans of the five schools to improve minority faculty retention at Dartmouth, doubling the Diversity Recruitment Fund to $2 million annually for fiscal year 2017.

“My role as provost ... is to work with the deans to ensure that they’re best in class when it comes to the faculty retention, providing them with resources, both financial and in terms of expertise, providing them with support and providing when needed and when asked by the deans direct support to faculty to ensure they have the chance to develop here and to stay here,” Dever said.

English department vice chair and professor Aden Evens said that he believes the administration in general has taken too conservative of an approach to retaining minority faculty.

“I would say that the administration needs to do even more,” Evens said. “And I know that there’s been significant discussion and genuine effort in this regard, but I think more needs to be done to diversify.”

Dever also filled several major leadership positions during her term as provost. Her appointments include Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid Lee Coffin, Dean of Geisel School of Medicine Duane Compton, Dean of Tuck School of Business Matthew Slaughter and Irving Institute director Elizabeth Wilson.

“We’ve been unabashed at going after the very best people in their fields and making the case on behalf of Dartmouth successfully,” Dever said.

Evens said that he believes Biron’s appointment to dean of the College was a wise decision.

“[Biron] is somebody who has her feet firmly on the ground, who is able to see things from an undergraduate student’s perspective, which I think is exactly the right kind of person to have in that role,” Evens said.

Dever said that on the admissions front, the College is working on a focused effort to improve its international profile.

“We will quite simply begin to visit schools and nations and regions where we’ve been absent for a long time,” she said.

Students have objected to certain administrative policies implemented during Dever’s term, including the elimination of the College’s need-blind admissions policy for international students. Dever said that it was a “tough decision,” but that it came in the larger context of helping Dartmouth to “jump-start” its international student recruitment.

“As we are thinking, and as Dean Coffin and his team are thinking about the best practices in U.S. higher education for providing the most robust and the most comprehensive support for the most students possible, we’re making an effort to align our recruitment strategies with our support strategies,” she said.

As provost, Dever also helped recruit the inaugural house professors for the College’s undergraduate house community system. She also changed the College’s disciplinary policy on sexual assault in addition to helping organize the College’s 2014 Summit on Sexual Assault.

Evens said that when Dever was hired, the English department was excited to have an advocate for the humanities in an administrative position at Dartmouth.

“I would hope that her successor is able to do more to keep the humanities vibrant at Dartmouth,” he added.

Dever said that she will teach the first-year seminar “Reading Jane Austen” during the winter term and will spend the next academic year “rebooting” her research program. She said that at this time, she is not considering any other administrative positions.

“I’ve been in senior administrative positions for more than a decade at this point, and I’ve kept a research program active during that time, but [it is] not as robust as I’d like it to be,” she said. “So I’m delving back into my discipline in order to be able to introduce new research and new courses in the Dartmouth community the year after.”