Harry Elam to Become New VPUE

Professor Harry J. Elam Jr.
As was speculated in [an earlier post](http://blog.stanfordreview.org/2010/06/11/saying-goodbye-to-bravman/), President Hennessy [announced today](http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/june/vice-provost-elam-061610.html) that Harry J. Elam Jr., a distinguished professor in the Department of Drama, will be the new Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, replacing John Bravman, who left to become the President of Bucknell University. This decision comes after [approximately one month](http://blog.stanfordreview.org/2010/05/03/nominate-your-pick-for-vpue/) of meetings by a committee of [students, faculty, and administrators](http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/may/search-committee-request-050310.html). In selecting Elam for this position, the selection committee seems to have elected to emphasize continuity. Elam was the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and thus is very familiar with the current workings of the VPUE. This means that we can expect a continuation of many of the very successful programs that have characterized Bravman’s tenure as VPUE, which is a relief, especially considering that the new VPUE will only have this summer to fully prepare himself for the new school year. In selecting an insider, the search committee ensured that there will not be a lengthy transition to new leadership. What else qualifies Elam for the position?

Elam is currently the chair of SUES, the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford, which aims to rethink Stanford’s requirements (most notably, IHUM, PWR, and the GERs). I’m uncertain as to whether he will relinquish that position in light of his new responsibilities, but his experience in that area means that he will likely continue to provide guidance as Stanford reconsiders its requirements. As someone who has not only taught an IHUM, but actually also as director of the IHUM program, we might expect him to hold onto the program, but I attended one of the dinner “listening sessions” organized by SUES and found him to be an excellent listener, even regarding strong criticism of the IHUM program as it currently exists. In any case, I would expect this link between SUES and the VPUE to be helpful once SUES makes its recommendations in Fall 2011 and administration begins to consider how to implement them.

Finally, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I heard about Elam in talking to several students and professors, who all hoped that he would be appointed to this position. Indeed, I never really heard all too much about other candidates. I am certain that the VPUE search committee did a very thorough job in looking at a variety of potential candidates, but I don’t think that there’s too much to complain about regarding their choice. They chose an insider when there is simply little time for anyone else to get to know the position and they selected someone with a record of administrative involvement and strong interest in the undergraduate population. I don’t think that we can ask for much else.

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