Professor of Geology Pat Spencer Appointed Interim Provost and Dean of Faculty

Sarah Cornett

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Professor of Geology Pat Spencer has been appointed interim provost and dean of the faculty. The announcement was made to the faculty last Monday, following current Provost and Dean of the Faculty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn’s decision to resign at the end of the year

The position heads the Office of the Provost, which is responsible for administering the academic program of the college. Additionally, the provost and dean of the faculty is the chief academic officer of the college and represents Whitman College in the absence of the president. Spencer said he was honored to have been chosen and excited for the various challenges and demands of the job.

“It’s a big job,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to be chosen. [Kaufman-Osborn] will leave gigantic shoes to fill.”

As interim, Spencer will serve in the position for at least one year as the college begins a national search for a permanent provost and dean of the faculty. In a letter to faculty on Nov. 12 detailing Kaufman-Osborn’s planned resignation and the steps needed to replace him, President Bridges said that he planned to hire a tenured Whitman faculty member and that he was accepting nominations from professors.

“[President Bridges] sent a note to the faculty requesting names of potential candidates. My name was thrown into the hopper after a number of people approached me and asked if I was interested in serving in the position, and I was,” said Spencer. “The idea was get someone who knows the school well and who has been here for some time. There are many faculty members that fit these criteria, and I was honored to be chosen.”

During Spencer’s time in the position, he will not teach in the geology department and will likely not advise students.

“That’s going to be really hard for me because I love teaching. We’ve put in a request for a person to replace me,” he said.

Kaufman-Osborn did not take part in the selection of Spencer as interim provost and dean of the faculty but says that he considers Spencer a great asset to the Whitman faculty.

“I have known Pat for most of my career at Whitman, and I know him to be a faculty member of great integrity and excellent judgment,” he said in an email.

Spencer says that he is ready to take on the challenges of the provost and dean of the faculty job. He will be on sabbatical next semester, giving him time to learn more about the expectations and various facets of the position before he assumes it on July 1.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I understand it can be an unrelenting job, but I am looking forward to it,” he said.

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