“We’re at a moment where there’s real realization where we have to do things differently.”
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Pollack attributes much of her knowledge and qualifications for the position to Hanlon’s mentorship while she worked as vice provost in addition to her experience in previous roles at the University.
Her goals include furthering the use of educational technology to adapt to the trend toward online learning.
“I’m excited about ways to use that so we can free up time for more hands-on activities and to hold down costs,” she said. “I think we need to be more productive, and one way we can do that is making creative use of online technologies. I think we’ll see how that plays out in the coming years.”
Pollack stressed the importance of affordability for students and added that she will work to put the University at the forefront of affordability.
“I think we have to figure out how to continue to deliver a first-rate education — one that gives hands-on education that well help (students) become leaders in the 21st century — and do it in a way that allows access to students, whatever their socioeconomic background,” Pollack said.
When asked about her future beyond her new role as provost, Pollack said she wants to focus on the next two years ahead.
Pollack earned her undergraduate degree in linguistics from Dartmouth College in 1979, a Master of Science in Engineering in computer science and engineering in 1984 and Ph.D. in the same subject in 1986 — both from the University of Pennsylvania. She previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh in various capacities from 1991 to 2000.
Judy Lawson, assistant dean for academic and student affairs for the School of Information, said as a fellow colleague she most admires Pollack’s unwavering commitment to students.
“When Dr. Pollack first started in her position as dean of the school of information, I was struck by her incredible energy, enthusiasm and down-to-earth approach,” Lawson said. “I always felt that student interests were a top priority for Dr. Pollack.”
Moreover, Lawson said Pollack’s information background aligns perfectly with the role of provost. She said Pollack often spoke about the ways in which the digital age was transforming many aspects of everyday life, including the ways people learn and educate others.
“Dr. Pollack brings an uncanny ability to manage competing priorities and move an organization towards greater levels of success,” Larson said. “I anticipate that, as provost, she will foster high levels of engagement in making the university operate more efficiently and effectively. She also has a great sense of humor, which is always a bonus.”
CSG President Manish Parikh said in a statement that he had the pleasure of working with Pollack on the University's budget.
"The Vice Provost was one of the first administrators I had the pleasure of working with as CSG President," Parikh said. "She is gentle, kind and has always been a tireless advocate for our student body. Students and student leaders across campus will benefit from her passion, ingenuity and vision."
In a Nov. 29 interview, Pollack said the University remained financially solvent, largely due to the careful planning by Hanlon, but that serious budget issues would continue to be a main issue for the next provost.
“Many of the (challenges) are going to be continuations of the ones he had to deal with. Many of them are of course financial,” Pollack said. “There's been a serious decline in state support for public education, and we'll have to come to grips with that.”
“We're going to continue to work hard ...