School of Information dean tapped to become vice provost

Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 8, 2010

Martha Pollack, dean of the School of Information, was named the vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs last week, replacing Philip Hanlon who will become the University's next provost in July.

Pollack’s appointment is set to begin July 1, pending approval by the University’s Board of Regents. Pollack will succeed Hanlon who was named the next University provost in January after current provost Teresa Sullivan announced she will be leaving her post to become the president of the University of Virginia.

Hanlon announced Pollack as the new vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs on Wednesday, according to the University Record. In an interview following the announcement, Pollack said this opportunity to take the new job came about fairly quickly.

“(Hanlon) came in and talked to me about it and we had a number of meetings,” she said. “I talked to a number of advisors and I thought over what to do and finally decided to take the position.”

Pollack added that she was “stunned” when Hanlon first approached her about taking the position.

“I had never imagined that this was coming,” she said. “I am enormously excited about the possibilities.”

Hanlon said he conducted an internal search for his replacement. After consulting University Provost Teresa Sullivan, various regents and other University officials he said Pollack was clearly the best candidate.

“Martha rose to the top amongst the people who were suggested,” Hanlon said. “So, at that point I pushed Martha about the idea. I had several conversations with her about the position. (I) cultivated her interest. I know she consulted with various people herself about the possibility.”

Pollack came to the University in 2000 as a professor in the School of Information and Computer Science and Engineering. She served as associate chair of the Computer Science and Engineering division within the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 2004-2007. In August 2007, Pollack was named dean of the School of Information.

Though she acknowledged she has a lot to learn before she becomes a vice provost in July, Pollack said her experience at the University and the contacts she has made within the University community will help her in her new role.

“I’ll bring to (the Vice Provost’s office) the prospective of someone who has been a Michigan faculty member, who has been the associate chair of a large division in the College of Engineering, who has been the dean of a school, and who has also a Michigan parent because I have a daughter who’s a senior in LSA,” Pollack said.

Pollack added that she will be able to draw upon her budgetary experience to help her manage the University’s budget — a large part of the vice provost’s job.

“In my role as dean of SI, I run the budget,” she said. “Now, it’s a much smaller budget and one that’s not as complicated as the University’s, but I have managed a substantial budget. And, as an academic scholar, I have managed research budgets.”

Hanlon echoed Pollack’s sentiment. He acknowledged that there would be an adjustment period, but he said Pollack would definitely be able to handle the transition.

“She is going to bring some important perspectives to our office,” Hanlon said, explaining Pollack's experience as a dean and a College of Engineering faculty member was a key factor in his decision.

Hanlon said he was impressed by Pollack's commitment to undergraduate and graduate education and the teaching awards she has won.

Though the vice provost for academic and budgetary has many responsibilities, Pollack said her primary focus will be assisting Hanlon in his new role as provost.

“The job of the vice provost is really to support the provost in realizing his vision,” she said. “So that will be my top priority.”

Between now and July, Pollack said she will continue to perform her duties in the School of Information. But she added that she will be preparing to assume her new role so she will be able to hit the ground running when it comes time to assume the post.

“My primary responsibility between now and July 1 continues to be to those who are associated with my role in the School of Information,” she said. “But, (Hanlon) has reached out to me and is giving me ways to learn parts of the job even before I start.”