Officials name third provost candidate

BY NINA EARNEST | MAY 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Uday Sukhatme, the executive vice chancellor of academic affairs and dean of faculties at Indiana University/Purdue University in Indianapolis, is the third and final candidate for the University of Iowa provost position, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

Sukhatme is scheduled to speak at an open forum in the Bijou at 3:30 p.m. today.

The physicist said he became familiar with the UI when his son attended law school in Iowa City.

"I know this is one of the premier research universities in the country, and it's an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the academic side," Sukhatme told The Daily Iowan Tuesday.

The vice chancellor's presentation is the last in the series of three candidates, following UI interim Provost P. Barry Butler and Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business Dean Yash Gupta.

Sukhatme said he hoped to discuss strengths and opportunities in public universities, as well as provide examples of his leadership in past administrative positions.

He worked in various teaching positions throughout the country after receiving a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. He worked for the University of Illinois-Chicago for 22 years, beginning as an associate professor of physics in 1980 and exiting as the interim provost for academic programs in 2002.

That same year, he took on an administrative position as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York-Buffalo.

Charles Stinger, the senior associate dean of faculty affairs at SUNY-Buffalo, worked for Sukhatme when the candidate served as the dean of the liberal-arts school.

Stinger said he "admired [Sukhatme] enormously."

In New York, Stinger said Sukhatme focused on expanding the number of faculty and the use of interdisciplinary research.

"In working with him, I think that his most remarkable personal characteristic is that he was never ruffled," Stinger said. "His temper was always even, no matter what the challenge or the issue in front of him."

Sukhatme received a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Delhi in 1964. He then came to the United States, earning a Bachelor of Science and Doctorate of Science in physics from MIT.

Henrik Aratyn, the head of the physics department at the University of Illinois-Chicago, said Sukhatme is an "excellent" physicist who cowrote a successful book on supersymmetry in quantum mechanics — and a leader.

"He would help the University of Iowa in identifying and growing scientific and funding opportunities, and I anticipate that he will be an excellent fit there," Aratyn said.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said no specific time frame has been set for the announcement of the position. But he said the administration hopes to have the selected candidate on board by summer and working at the start of the academic year.

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