Interim Provost Lisa Tedesco has decided to step down after only two months on the job, citing a desire to devote more time to the search for the next University president. Tedesco will be replaced Jan. 1 by Paul Courant, associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs, said B. Joseph White, who will become interim president when Lee Bollinger steps down at the end of the semester.

The change requires final approval by the University Board of Regents at its scheduled meeting Nov. 15 but is not expected to encounter any opposition.

“I”ve been serving both as interim provost and vice president and secretary to the University, but I will go back to my singular duties on January 1,” Tedesco said.

“She put the University first again,” White said, adding that Tedesco”s decision to leave the provost”s office was her personal choice.

Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said she believes Courant is an excellent candidate for the interim provost position and does not anticipate any dissent among the other regents.

“I know Paul professionally. When Nancy Cantor was provost he worked on the budget and he”s really top notch,” she said.

Cantor stepped down as provost earlier this year to become chancellor of the University of Illinois.

Courant, an economics and public policy professor, said he and his staff will use the next two months to regroup their office before he begins his duties as interim provost.

“Mercifully, we have almost two months and we will have to figure out how to best configure that,” Courant said. “Clearly I can”t (be interim provost) and do what I do now, and the University still needs a budget.”

Courant said he is unsure whether he will put his name into consideration for the permanent provost position.

“It”s far too soon to say,” he said. “It will be a hard and interesting job and I”m looking forward to the adventure and to serving this university well.”

White said he looked for a candidate who displayed both professional and academic excellence to fill the interim provost position.

“The provost has to have very strong academic values and high academic standards,” White said.

Tedesco said she believes her time will be best spent aiding the regents in their presidential search.

“Some of the most important work the regents do is select a president and they need the full support of the executive officer that serves as a liaison between the regents and the University,” Tedesco said.

White also created a new position designed to aid the interim president yesterday.

White named Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Lester Monts to the position of senior counselor to the interim president for the arts, diversity, and undergraduate affairs. White said he chose Monts “in order to ensure continuity in these three cultural areas: arts, diversity and undergraduate education.”

Monts served on the President”s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience for the past year, reviewing and writing recommendations to improve student life at the University.

“I think the numerous years I spent working on undergraduate issues both here and at the University of California, and the interaction I had with deans, faculty members and students on the undergraduate commission have provided me with a kind of insight that will be useful to the president,” Monts said.

He said his goal is to broaden art and cultural awareness among students, while maintaining a strong commitment to diversity on campus.

“I am not certain that we involve undergraduates to the extent that we should,” Monts said.

White said these changes made to the administration are meant to stabilize the presidential search and the University community. “The theme of my interim presidency is continuity,” he said.

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