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David Harris named to new position of deputy provost

Provost Carolyn (Biddy) Martin announced this week that she has established the position of deputy provost in her office and has named David R. Harris to the post. He will retain his position as Cornell's vice provost for social sciences. The deputy provost appointment was effective Aug. 20.

"I am pleased that David Harris has agreed to assume this new role, which is designed to help me support President David Skorton's priorities for the university. David's talent will serve the office and the university extremely well," said Martin. She noted that the decision to establish the new position reflects the "extraordinary new effort President Skorton is asking of his provost and other members of his senior team."

President Skorton stated: "Fulfilling our vision for Cornell and succeeding at our capital campaign requires that some of the provost's time be freed up so she can bring her considerable leadership skills to bear not only on the university's strategic research and educational goals, but also its relations with supporters, government officials and university leaders abroad." Skorton called the relationship between the president and the provost "a partnership" and said he had encouraged Martin to create the new position.

The provost's office is responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, tenure and promotion, academic and research initiatives, and general academic and budgetary supervision of the Ithaca campus. Martin has been provost since July 2000.

"This change will allow me to work even more directly with the deans to ensure that we enhance the quality of our faculty and programs as we face the challenge of replacing hundreds of faculty and moving in new research directions," said Martin. "At the same time, it will also permit me to contribute more to other priorities articulated by President Skorton, including international programs and the campaign, which has gained great momentum over the past few months, and which is crucial to the success of our educational and research goals. David Harris' appointment will help me tremendously."

Harris will focus initially on several key priorities, including diversity and the social sciences, and will help coordinate the work of the vice provosts. As the first director and then executive director of the Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS) and, more recently, as vice provost for the social sciences, Harris "has displayed vision, initiative and effectiveness," said Martin. "Thanks to his experience in the provost's office over the past two years, David Harris is familiar with the work of key areas outside the social sciences. He served very ably when called upon to assume responsibility for the Office of Research for a brief period last winter."

Harris has taken on significant leadership roles since he left his assistant professorship at the University of Michigan to join the Cornell faculty in 2003. In 2004 he was appointed the Robert S. Harrison Executive Director of the Institute for the Social Sciences, and in 2005 he was named Cornell's first vice provost for social sciences. The ISS post will be assumed by current director Beta Mannix, professor of management and organizations at the Johnson School. Harris also co-chairs the University Diversity Council's working group, established last year to create and sustain an inclusive campus community.

As a social scientist, Harris' research focuses on race and ethnicity, stratification and public policy. As vice provost for the social sciences, he is charged with providing leadership for defining and achieving goals for the social sciences on campus and to provide a social science perspective on Cornell policies and priorities.

Harris said he is prepared to address key areas outside the social sciences and has been well briefed on matters affecting all academic units, thanks to two years of weekly meetings with deans and other vice provosts.

"That has given me a good sense of what is going on in myriad areas, such as the humanities, the life and physical sciences and engineering, in addition to the areas for which I already have responsibility," Harris said. "Nevertheless, I will work closely with the provost and others to ensure that my new role serves to advance, not alter or impede, the provost's priorities." Harris added that he will continue to play a leadership role in the social sciences.

Harris earned a B.S. degree in human development and social policy in 1991 and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1997, both from Northwestern University. He is a member of the board of overseers for the national General Social Survey and was a consultant for the National Research Council Committee to Evaluate the 2000 Census.

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Nicola Pytell