David Kotz '86 will serve as interim provost starting Nov. 22

by Peter Charalambous | 11/13/17 2:17am

Computer science professor David Kotz ’86 will serve as interim provost following the end of Provost Carolyn Dever’s tenure, College President Phil Hanlon announced on Monday. Kotz will begin his tenure as interim provost after Dever’s last day on Nov. 22 and will serve until a new permanent provost is selected.

Dever announced that she will be stepping down to resume her teaching and research on Oct. 10. According to Kotz, Hanlon reached out to Kotz around two weeks ago to ask if he would consider the interim position.

“My primary goal is to serve the College — the faculty, the staff and the students ­— as well as I can,” he said.

Kotz has served as the associate dean of faculty for the sciences for six years and as the executive director of the Institute for Security, Technology and Society for four years. As the Champion International Professor, an endowed position, in the computer science department, Kotz has researched topics ranging from healthcare pervasive computing to wireless networks.

In 1997, Kotz was also one of the first computer science junior professors at the College to receive tenure.

“[Kotz] really broke through that barrier of junior faculty getting tenure and was just incredibly personally helpful to me,” said computer science professor Thomas Cormen, who has worked with Kotz since the early 1990s at the College.

Over the course of his academic career, Kotz has received over $65 million in grant funding and published over 130 referenced conference and journal papers. He has also served as a Fulbright Fellow in India and is an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa.

“[Kotz’s] record as an eminent scholar and teacher, his research leadership and his six years as associate dean of the faculty for the sciences make him the ideal choice for the interim post,” Hanlon said in the initial announcement.

Kotz’s experience as a Dartmouth undergraduate, faculty member and parent of a Dartmouth student also gives him a better understanding of the College and the position itself, economics professor Nancy Marion said.

“I think it is really great to have a new [interim] provost who not only understands the academic life here but understands the student life here,” Cormen said.

As interim provost, Kotz intends to use his experience with other administrative positions to serve the responsibilities of interim provost.

“I do not anticipate any specific challenges, at least not that I am aware of,” Kotz said. “I am sure some things are underway and somethings will come up. Really, I am just stepping in to help out.”

Though his short tenure may be a limiting factor in creating meaningful policies, Kotz hopes to make a positive impact.

“With respect to the topic of diversifying the faculty, it is something that is very important, something that I have been working on whenever I have had the opportunity to do so for many years and hope I have the opportunity to do something, even during my short time in the provost’s office,” Kotz said.

Marion, who worked with Kotz for five years while she served as associate dean of social sciences, noted that she thinks that Kotz’s problem-solving talent, analytical skills, high standards and ethical compass will help him succeed in the position. She added that these skills have helped him recruit talented faculty members.

“He’s a very good listener, and he also tries to empower others to be effective managers and problem solvers,” she said. “He has always had very high standards for recruiting and maintaining the very best faculty, and that is what makes for a great institution.”

As a result of his appointment, Kotz will not be able to teach the courses he originally planned. He will no longer be able to teach Computer Science 10, “Problem Solving via Object-Oriented Programming” and Computer Science 50, “Software Design and Implementation” during the upcoming terms, but he will be able to continue mentoring students and work on federal grant projects.

“I have six Ph.D. students, three staff, one post doc and some undergrads … I am committed to working with them, so that won’t change,” he said. “I have federal grants underway that I have to continue to work on, so my goal is to continue that work in parallel.”

In regards to specific issues on campus such as the task force on enrollment expansion and the approaching capital campaign, Kotz plans to learn more as he assumes more responsibilities.

“I am really looking forward to working with the outstanding staff in the provost’s office and the other units of the college — the business school, the engineering school, the medical school, the arts and sciences, etc. — because I value their work tremendously and am very pleased to be working with so many great people,” he said.