December 20, 2022

Purdue names new provost, executive vice president for research, and additional leadership updates for January 2023

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As the Fall 2022 semester ends at Purdue and the university prepares for a new president on Jan. 1, President-elect Mung Chiang announced Tuesday (Dec. 20) several updates to the university leadership team and a new structure for research and partnerships at Purdue. 

As of Jan. 1, Patrick Wolfe will become Purdue’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity; Alyssa Wilcox will become senior vice president for partnerships and the president’s chief of staff.

As of Jan. 9, Theresa Mayer will step down as executive vice president for research and partnerships and take on the new role as the university’s chief science officer; Karen Plaut will become executive vice president for research; and Dan DeLaurentis will become vice president for Discovery Park District at Purdue institutes, reporting to Plaut.

“Purdue is successful because of all of our dedicated colleagues,” Chiang said. “We are immensely grateful for the contributions of every Boilermaker as we come to the last work week before January 1. I am looking forward to working with Provost Patrick Wolfe, EVP Karen Plaut, SVP Alyssa Wilcox, CSO Theresa Mayer, and the entire university leadership team to serve the students, faculty and staff of our university.” 

Provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity

 

wolfe-p19 Patrick Wolfe
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Wolfe, currently the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and the Miller Family Professor of Statistics and Computer Science, was chosen from a field of more than 20 nominees and 10 applicants to succeed Provost Jay Akridge, who has held the position since 2017.

President Mitch Daniels and Chiang thanked the search advisory committee, led by R. Byron Pipes, the John L. Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering, for its work in reviewing candidates, organizing forums for the finalists and gathering campus feedback on the candidates. The committee narrowed the field to three finalists, all highly qualified and outstanding individuals. The finalists each met with campus leaders and administrators and held public forums Dec. 7-9 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall. Feedback was accepted through Dec. 12. Additionally, throughout November and early December, the search advisory committee conducted seven listening sessions and opened additional channels for feedback from faculty, students and staff through emails, surveys and anonymous online input.

“I couldn’t be more pleased and proud to serve our students, staff and faculty across the entirety of Purdue’s academic enterprise as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity,” Wolfe said. “I look forward immensely to helping make Purdue the most consequential comprehensive public research university in America.”

Wolfe joined Purdue in 2017 to lead its College of Science, having previously helped set up and lead the Alan Turing Institute — the UK’s national center for data science and artificial intelligence — as a Royal Society Wolfson Award winner and Research Fellow. Wolfe has grown the college to become Purdue’s second largest, transforming its programs, faculty and research base while ensuring the delivery of over 40% of all 100–299-level credit hours on campus. Along with securing the establishment of the Chaney-Hale Hall of Science and the full refurbishment of Schleman Hall for Purdue’s expanding data science activities, he has overseen record-setting and record-breaking enhancements in undergraduate student success as well as doctoral student applications, enrollment, research proposals and funding. Wolfe also established Purdue’s Emerging Leaders Science Scholars program, which has significantly expanded the recruitment, retention, and success of Purdue Science students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and has reshaped the college’s leadership team with a much more representative set of STEM leaders. Wolfe publishes in mathematical statistics and chairs the board of the NSF-funded Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation.

Jean Chmielewski, the Alice Watson Kramer Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science, has agreed to serve as interim dean starting Jan. 1, and a national search for the next dean will be announced in early January.

 

mayer-t22 Theresa Mayer
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Executive vice president for research

Under the leadership of EVPRP Theresa Mayer, research at Purdue continued its exciting, positive trajectory, with new records of federal research expenditure and substantial growth, especially in national security technologies. In the new role of chief science officer, Mayer will continue to make significant contributions to Purdue’s research excellence.

 

plaut-k18 Karen Plaut
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Plaut, who will become executive vice president for research on Jan. 9, overseeing the growing $600 million research enterprise at Purdue, came to the university in 2010 as the associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture. She became interim dean in 2017 and then permanent dean of the college in 2018. 

“I am honored and excited to be the next executive vice president for research as part of President-elect Chiangs leadership team,” Plaut said. “I look forward to catalyzing the growth of the research enterprise through strategic investments in faculty success across the university.”

An interim dean for the College of Agriculture and a national search for the next dean will be announced in early January. With a focus on digital agriculture and data science, the college’s ranking rose to No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 8 in the world (QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry, 2022). In 2022, extramural research awards in the college reached a record $85.6 million across all federal agencies, and faculty worked with over 100 industry partners. Under Plaut’s direction, the Purdue Moves and Next Moves investments in the Institute for Plant Sciences have positioned Purdue as a global leader in developing and delivering innovation, technology and human capacity in plant phenomics, digital forestry and consumer behavior. Investments in the construction of the Indiana Corn and Soy Innovation Center and the Ag Alumni Phenotyping Facility, leveraged with faculty hires and investments in data science, have enabled Purdue to become a world-class leader in digital agriculture. Investments in commercialization through the Ag-Celerator have resulted in 25 startup companies, and more recently, the college has developed a new model of innovation through DIAL Ventures as part of the Purdue Applied Research Institute.

“I am honored and excited to be the next executive vice president for research as part of President-elect Chiangs leadership team,” Plaut said. “I look forward to catalyzing the growth of the research enterprise through strategic investments in faculty success across the university.”

An interim dean for the College of Agriculture and a national search for the next dean will be announced in early January.

delaurentis-d17 Dan DeLaurentis
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Dan DeLaurentis, the longtime director of Purdue’s Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation (i-GSDI) and professor of aeronautics and astronautics, has been appointed vice president for research institutes and centers in the Discovery Park District at Purdue, and will report to Plaut. In an arrangement similar to pre-Covid 19 years of Discovery Park District institutes, the faculty VP will work closely with the EVP for research to advance the success of these important, interdisciplinary research institutes for the whole campus.

Senior vice president for partnerships

wilcox-a22 Alyssa Wilcox
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Wilcox, current chief of staff to Chiang, has been appointed senior vice president for partnerships and the president’s chief of staff. The office of partnerships, to be housed in the president’s office, will entail three units that will report to Wilcox: global partnerships, which will be led by Mike Brzezinski; industry partnerships, which will be led by Nathan Utz; and special project management, which will be led by newly appointed Vice President Cristina Farmus.

Wilcox joined the staff at Purdue in 2002 as the inaugural development officer for what was then the Department of Biomedical Engineering. During this time, she raised the funding for Martin C. Jischke Hall of Biomedical Engineering and secured the gift to name the program as the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Wilcox then served as the assistant dean of development and alumni relations at Vanderbilt University Law School and as senior associate vice president at Riley Children’s Hospital Foundation. In 2013, Wilcox returned to Purdue to lead the College of Engineering’s fundraising and alumni relations operation as part of Purdue’s $2.5 billion Ever True campaign that included more than 209,000 donors. She led the college’s development team as it surpassed the initial $700 million goal and raised more than $1 billion, the largest amount raised by any public engineering school. Since the completion of the Ever True campaign, Wilcox has served as the chief of staff to Chiang and has developed and sustained a diverse portfolio of important domestic and international partnerships.   

farmus-c22 Cristina Farmus
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"I am deeply committed to helping President-Elect Chiang achieve the goal of the pinnacle of excellence at scale at Purdue,” Wilcox said. “Partnerships, both internal and external, will play a central role, and I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to cultivate, strengthen and sustain this key element of our success."

Media contact: Tim Doty, doty2@purdue.edu

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