Barbara Altmann leaves UO to be Provost at Bucknell

Bucknell is a small liberal arts college in the lovely town of Lewisburg, by the banks of the Susquehanna on which I spent an idyllic youth messing about in boats. Will Interim President Coltrane appoint a new Interim VP for Academic Affairs or leave it for Doug Blandy to run on his own?

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From: John Bravman and Kim Daubman <president@bucknell.edu> Date: Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 11:51 AM
Subject: Introducing Bucknell’s Next Provost

Bucknell University

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
Kim and I write with the exciting news that the search for Bucknell’s next provost has concluded, and it is our great pleasure to introduce to you Barbara Altmann.

Barbara holds her doctorate in medieval French language and literature from the University of Toronto. She comes to Bucknell from the University of Oregon, where she currently serves as senior vice provost for academic affairs. In that capacity Barbara oversees the university’s undergraduate studies as well as its curriculum and program development. Prior to that, Barbara served as the director of the Oregon Humanities Center, a role in which she managed internal research and teaching fellowship programs for faculty, and served as a liaison with other state, national and international humanities centers. Barbara was also the head of Oregon’s Department of Romance Languages, which comprises 45 faculty and 1,000 majors and minors in 12 different degree programs.

Barbara stood out during a national search that drew applications from a large pool of highly qualified candidates. She was among 11 finalists interviewed off-site, and one of four whom we invited to visit campus. During her time here, Barbara met with several groups comprising nearly 80 individuals representing our students, faculty and staff. Barbara’s unique blend of scholarship and administrative experience, coupled with her enthusiasm and passion for an undergraduate education steeped in the liberal arts elevated her to the clear consensus choice for each and every group. You can read more about your peers’ experience with Barbara in this news story. In addition, you can download a PDF of Barbara’s curriculum vitae here, which captures in much greater depth her impressive scholarship and accomplishments.

Kim and I greatly appreciate all those who dedicated their time to this very important process, and in particular the hard work of our colleagues on the search committee. We could not be more pleased with the outcome. Barbara is set to officially join us on August 1, but we hope to coordinate another visit to campus sometime this spring.

I also want to express my deep gratitude to Mick Smyer for his immeasurable contributions to Bucknell since becoming provost in 2008. It is all but impossible to appreciate everything that Mick has done to advance Bucknell, but Bucknell is far better because of him, and the impact of his service will be felt evermore. Mick was recently awarded fellowships by both the Australian government’s Department of Education and Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Both will support his current research: “Graying Green: Climate Communication for a Graying World.” After a sabbatical, Mick plans to return to the Bucknell faculty.

At this moment in Bucknell’s history, we find ourselves on a path to great success. The challenges before us are formidable, but the opportunities are unparalleled. Together, we can forge one of the strongest, most distinctive undergraduate learning environments in the country. Adding Barbara to our community is an important step forward in that journey.

John C. Bravman,
President

Kim Daubman,
Faculty Chair

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18 Responses to Barbara Altmann leaves UO to be Provost at Bucknell

  1. Old Grey Mare says:

    I’m sorry to hear this. I’ve always respected Altman. She has served the UO well as scholar, teacher, head of the Humanities Center, and vice-provost. All the best luck to her in her new position.

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  2. Anas Clypeata says:

    There’s a third option in your “or” question in the lede: get some school to poach VP Blandy from us.

    Looks like Bucknell is better at high grading than we are. “Take the best and leave the rest” should be second nature to Oregonians, but they beat us at our own game. Darn it.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that Academic Affairs got split into 2 SVP positions. How many universities around our size have 2 people in that spot?

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  4. nobody says:

    Speaking of org charts…I went through the IT org chart this morning due to all of the chatter on the deptcomp mailing list re:shutting down the hardware shop come May.

    They’re (the Robs) getting lots of support but it looks like they couldn’t turn a profit in this new business model…

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  5. Anonymous says:

    after the example set by the country of Norway, the great brain drain continues. rumor is Berglund is also on the move.

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    • anonymous says:

      I heard that too. before he could even be chosen as dean of the Grad Sch, Berglund’s out of here.

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      • throwaway123 says:

        Are any of the Graduate School Dean candidates sticking around?

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    • that effing Dog again says:

      Berglund got an excellent offer elsewhere that offered a very significantly improved research infrastructure relative to what the UO has. Indeed, I think this is the main reason that research faculty, including myself, would leave the UO which is to go to a place that better supports research and opportunity. Salary considerations are less important.

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  6. decisions made says:

    Some people cannot stomach what they see behind the JH curtain….and walk away…The only thing saving UO right now is the tight job market in academia and even that will only help so much.

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    • TheMirror says:

      I find this comment particularly clueless, especially since Barbara has been repeated vilified on this blog. Do we think that the UO needs no administration? The political strategy of dehumanizing the “opposition” is destructive to everything that this university should strive to be. I have seen many comments on this site that basically state that all administrators are evil. No, they are humans — and Barbara is one of the most patient and pleasant people that I have seen on this campus.

      I’m guessing she is leaving because this is a great opportunity. If it is for other reasons, then I doubt it has little to do with interactions in JH and more to do with the seeming futility of working on behalf of a group of people who seek to hate you no matter what you do.

      So many appear eager to douse people with gasoline and then wonder why they walk away from the match?

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  7. Anon says:

    Economics is losing a newly tenured prof too.

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  8. UO Colleague says:

    I wonder if her decision has anything to do with the toxic culture here? All the best to Barbara Altmann!

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    • that effing Dog again says:

      Given the choice of managing scholarship or managing the UO crises of the day, what would you choose?

      Also being worn down by CBA negotiations is a factor.

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      • just different says:

        If the UO administration finds CBA negotiations wearing, they should rethink the cost-benefit analysis of their bargaining tactics.

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        • duckduckgo says:

          I agree with “I’m with Dog” below. The negotiations are demoralizing, but the implementation is numbing. Every group I intersect with has to come up with some sort of governance document and evaluation procedure. The naive attempts at this get commented up by someone higher up (often in inconsistent ways when comparing documents) and then we re-try even though we lack the expertise to craft the language appropriately. And then, after a long process and delays we are DONE! Only to learn that we need to re-start the process soon after with all sorts of changes requested. What’s the productivity hit on all this on faculty and admins?

          It is hard to argue against a grass-roots, democratically informed set of consistent documents describing our work lives, but somehow this is a 10th circle of some bad place.

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          • just different says:

            Interesting. I’ve been looking through a bunch of GTF GDRS documents from various departments, and I was rather surprised to discover how much most of them suck. I assumed this was because of the widespread contempt many departments have for the GTFF, but maybe it’s due more to inexperience with this kind of process.

            Maybe it would make sense to invest in some sort of consulting to get these policies done properly and uniformly? University faculty are spectacularly ill-qualified to produce these kinds of documents. It’s refreshing to hear someone honest enough to recognize that.

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  9. I'm with Dog says:

    It’s not just the negotiations, it’s the CBA implementation. It has been a mind-numbing amount of work at all levels.

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  10. decisions made says:

    clueless? uhhhhhh, have you not noticed how many head scratching (i.e. bad) decisions are made by UO administrators once they get the bump to dual office status. I would like to think they are not evil but some of them do their level best (with the help of the fine UO legal team) to appear that way (over and over and over….again).

    The complete lack of leadership at all levels results in the constant tail chasing going on here. The depressing thing is watching young faculty get hired and chewed up by the system here. This blog may be their only hope to avoid that fate.

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