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>  News Releases >   2003 >   April

The challenge of being Dartmouth's Provost

Posted 04/07/03, by Anita Warren


As provost, Scherr oversees more than a dozen academic divisions on campus
(photo by Joe Mehling '69)

Provost Barry Scherr loves to teach. "Having that engagement in the classroom is really exciting," he says. It's what he misses most since his appointment to provost in 2001. He's hoping to teach a course some summer term but administrative duties so far have left little room for anything more than the occasional guest lecture.

As provost, Scherr is responsible for "overseeing the overall academic integrity of the entire institution and for those operations transcending the work of a single faculty." The offices of grants and contracts, admissions, and computing services; the Hood Museum; the Hopkins Center; the libraries; the Rassias and Tucker Foundations; the Women in Science Project; the professional schools; and several other offices and centers report to the provost's office, keeping Scherr moving at warp speed year-round. He admits balancing these competing interests and demands for limited resources can be challenging.

"Right now, resources are more limited than usual, but even in a growth period you can't satisfy all the demands that are out there. You have to be part of the process of deciding what the priorities are going to be-what's most important to push forward," says Scherr, who chairs the College's budget committee. "It's often hard because nearly everything that comes to you is a good idea. Most of what you get is something good that would add to the institution, yet you can't do all of those."

Scherr has a history of rising to the challenge at Dartmouth. He arrived on campus as assistant professor of Russian in 1974 and seven years later was named chair of the Russian studies department, a post he held for nine years. He served as associate dean for the humanities, 1997-2001. He helped found the linguistics and cognitive science program and the Jewish studies program. Over the years, he served on numerous committees.

Each new role and added responsibility attracted the Mandel Family Professor of Russian because it offered him the opportunity to make a difference. "When you see something you've been involved with or something you've helped push forward, where you've brought a couple people together at key moments in a way that establishes something, that's exciting," he says.

"I'd like this office to make it easier for faculty across the institution to work together effectively, to make them feel part of the same overall educational environment-that they can do exciting things by making contact with each other and working with students, even in areas other than their own-and to get them thinking in ways that don't lock themselves into their old way of doing things. To the extent my office can help that effort, it's doing some good."

- Anita Warren

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