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Patrick Farrell to become UW-Madison's next provost

Patrick V. Farrell

Patrick V. Farrell (large image)

Patrick Farrell, executive associate dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, was named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs today (Wednesday, March 8) by UW-Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley. Farrell will begin his duties on April 3.

“I look forward to Pat joining our administrative team at a time of great opportunity and continuing challenges for UW-Madison,” says Wiley. “In his college, Pat has proven to be a capable leader and sound decision-maker. The university, at the highest level, will now benefit from Pat's sharp, analytical thinking and consultative decision-making style.”

Wiley says the hiring of Farrell will also provide valuable leadership continuity, given his knowledge of the campus.

As chief academic officer, the provost helps steer long-term academic direction through close collaboration with the deans of UW-Madison's 12 schools and colleges. The provost also is responsible for faculty and staff development, diversity initiatives and enrollment management, and is the point person for shared governance. The provost also acts as chief executive officer of the university in the chancellor's absence.

“The provost has an opportunity to add value to great work occurring across campus while also identifying and solving problems,” Wiley says. “We expect Pat to play a large role in academic and administrative leadership.”

“This is a big responsibility and I'm excited about the challenge,” says Farrell “I've inherited quite a strong legacy in this position and it will be my job not just to maintain, but improve upon that legacy.”

Farrell says he intends to “use up a lot of shoe leather” in the first months on the job, getting to know better all aspects of the university and especially those parts of campus with which he is less familiar. “I plan to make it clear that campus-wide input will be important from the start,” Farrell says. He describes his leadership style as both a collaborator and a coordinator who is happy to delegate important tasks, while also maintaining close contact with staff.

“One of my key agenda items will be to begin building a more cohesive vision for the campus,” he adds. “I think that vision exists in different places right now, but the university does not have a common perception of who we are, what we stand for and where we are going.”

Given some of the difficult perception problems the university is facing, Farrell says he believes that vision is as important externally as it is internally.

Farrell has been at UW-Madison since 1982 as a member of the mechanical engineering faculty. He served as director of the Engine Research Center from 1999-2001, and beginning in 2001, became the College of Engineering associate dean for academic affairs. He was named executive associate dean in 2005.

Farrell's research focuses on fluid mechanics, combustion and optical methods as they relate to engine design and function. He was part of the original team that developed an innovative hands-on design course for freshman engineers, and is a fellow of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy. As associate dean, he has been responsible for steering the academic mission of the college.

Farrell earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan, his master's degree at the University of California-Berkeley and his doctorate at the University of Michigan, all in mechanical engineering.

Farrell succeeds Peter Spear, who retired in late October after five years as the university's provost.

Wiley praised the work of Interim Provost Virginia Sapiro, who has been in the position since November 2005. “Gina showed exceptional leadership and problem-solving from the moment she entered the position,” he says, adding that she will resume her position as associate vice chancellor for teaching and learning. “Like many people, I was extremely impressed with Gina's administrative abilities and how effectively she addressed a broad and diverse array of issues as interim. I am confident that she will put her talents and intellect to good use as other leadership opportunities become available.”

Mary Behan, a professor of comparative biosciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, chaired the 16-member search committee. The committee began work in May 2005.

Farrell was one of three finalists forwarded to the chancellor for consideration. Sue V. Rosser, dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, visited campus, and Kumble R. Subbaswamy, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University in Bloomington, withdrew to accept a similar position at the University of Kentucky.

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3/8/2006