Ralph Pearson to step down as Provost
Will continue to work at Duquesne as professor
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 23:09
After 12 years as provost and vice president for academic affairs, Provost Ralph Pearson will step down at the end of the academic year to make room for a new perspective at Duquesne.
Following several years of consideration, Pearson will be relinquishing his position as the academic provost for Duquesne in order to return to his teaching and research agenda. A provost search committee, chaired by Rev. James McCloskey, has been announced and will begin meeting Friday.
Pearson, while removing himself as provost, will stay on at the University as a professor, most likely for the history department of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
Before becoming Duquesne’s provost, Pearson worked as both an academic professional as well as an administrator for 10 different schools, including four Catholic universities, across the country. He has worked in higher education for over 35 years.
Throughout his career he said, Duquesne has been his most interesting appointment and that is why he is looking forward to continuing his time here while resuming his teaching and research agenda.
“I will stay at Duquesne because I think it’s a dynamic institution,” Pearson said. “Duquesne has the most variety ... a constant challenge.”
McCloskey said it has been a privilege to work with Pearson during his time as provost and to see the enormous academic progress he has brought to the school. The qualitative progress in Duquesne’s academics since Pearson became provost is what McCloskey saw as Pearson’s greatest accomplishment.
“During his tenure we have seen a marked qualitative improvement borne out in the rankings of all our academic programs,” McCloskey said.
Two deans will be serving on the Provost Search Committee to ensure the “big shoes” Pearson is leaving behind will be filled properly, said Dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts James Swindal.
“He had good rapport with fellow administration and faculty,” Swindal said. “I’d say he’s exemplary in that way.”
The other dean on the committee, J. Douglas Bricker of the Mylan School of Pharmacy, said Pearson served as a great advocate for the academic side of the school community.
“He always had the students and faculty in mind,” Bricker said. “When there were discussions, he was the voice of the academics.”
Pearson said his biggest achievement has been the continued development of the University’s Honors College, the heightened quality of the faculty across all disciplines and the development of international programs and international education.
“Across ten years, we are continuing to grow strength in teaching and the use of new technology and research,” Pearson said.
For now, Pearson’s goal is to make sure the transition for the new provost goes as smoothly as possible and that “new vision, new ideas and the next level of excellence” may enter his office.
Bricker explained that once the committee meets on Friday and determines an appropriate description for the provost position, they will begin advertising for the job nationwide.
“We will look for an individual with prior experience, attributes for a good academic leader including integrity, trustworthy, and a strong advocate for academia,” Bricker said.
Swindal said the search committee would also try to find someone who was as committed to the University mission and the Spiritan ideas as Pearson was.
“We need someone who understands what Duquesne is and who the Spiritans are ... There are a lot of ways you can be educated in the world but there’s something unique about ours,” Swindal said.
Pearson said the uniqueness of the mission and the distribution of the Spiritan Fathers’ ideas, especially in the commitment to the students, is why he will remain at Duquesne.
“I like that sense of community,” Pearson said.