Bravman Leaves Large Shoes to Fill

After more than three decades at Stanford, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education John Bravman has accepted a position as President of Bucknell University, a private liberal arts university in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. A new committee is now being assembled to fill the void the Vice Provost Bravman will leave behind.

Vice Provost Bravman has been learning, teaching, or administrating at Stanford since his years as an undergraduate student in 1974.  Bravman graduated in 1979 with a major in Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering.  In 1985, he earned his doctorate, began teaching at Stanford, and, in 1999, President Gerhard Caspar appointed him Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Bucknell University’s search for a new President was conducted by a Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Mr. Steve Holmes, a member of Bucknell’s Board of Trustees.  Holmes noted several qualities that made Bravman appealing to the university. Very important to the search committee was Bravman’s experience leading the undergraduate program at Stanford for many years.

The committee placed a large emphasis on their candidates’ characters, and Holmes praised several of Bravman’s traits. Among them, Holmes mentioned, “An unwavering commitment to the highest standards of learning, teaching and scholarship,” and “the ability to think strategically and drive institutional innovation.”

Holmes also cited a “commitment to diversity in all forms…Personal integrity, courage, approachability and a sense of humor,” as valuable qualities seen in Bravman.

Stanford’s praise of Bravman also factored into Bucknell’s decision. “The respect and affection he has earned at such an outstanding university after more than 30 years there are a real tribute to him,” stated Holmes.

Bravman loves the Stanford community just as much as they love him, stating to The Stanford Daily, “I expected to spend my entire adult life here and retire…They love the fact that I love Stanford.” When asked what will be most difficult for him to leave at Stanford, Bravman responded, “That’s easy – the great people.”

After becoming acquainted with Bravman for many months, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to make him their next President.

The process of finding a replacement for Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education has already commenced. Shortly after the announcement, Stanford’s Nominations Commission began accepting applications from students to determine who would fill the one student position on the committee to select a new Vice Provost.

The Nominations Commission accepted written applications and chose four of the 24 applicants who applied to the position, according to Nominations Commission member Jonathan Bakke. Those four candidates will then be interviewed by the new selection committee itself.

The commission looked for candidates “who will give quality input and who will work well with the other committee members,” said Bakke. When asked if he was concerned about only one student representing the concerns of the entire student body, Bakke stated, “I don’t believe we have enough experience or knowledge about running such a committee to make a qualified statement concerning the appropriate level of student representation.”

Neither the composition nor members of the selection committee have been released by the Office of the Provost yet. Once the committee is formed, the search for candidates will begin.

Last quarter Bravman announced the creation of the Study for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University (SUES). This study will review core requirements, major requirements, and other aspects of undergraduate education and possibly present alternatives.

Bravman was instrumental in initiating SUES but will now be absent for much of its review. Though the state of the program after his departure doesn’t concern him. He stated, “Now that it’s launched, it [his departure] won’t affect it at all.”

While the selections committee hasn’t yet spoken about criteria for a future Vice Provost of Undergraduate Eduction, Bravman has weighed in on the requisite characteristics. “I would say the first [characteristic] is a deep dedication to undergraduate education in a research university,” he said, “integrity, judgment, and fortitude are all important as well.”

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