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The University Magazine

Jeremy Haefner is RIT’s new provost

Veteran administrator from Colorado Springs takes reins as chief academic officer

University Magazine - Fall 2008 Image
During a visit to campus in the spring, Jeremy Haefner, left, chats with President Bill Destler.

Jeremy Haefner, a veteran administrator and educator from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has been appointed senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at RIT.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” says Haefner. “RIT’s rich history, President Destler’s laser vision for the future, the renowned faculty, its superb students, along with a strong community connection is a powerful combination for future success. Finding creative and innovative solutions to affect positive impact is my passion. My experience, values and goals are closely aligned with those of RIT.”

Haefner, who was chosen from a field of five finalists, began his new duties July 1. He replaces retiring Provost Stanley Mc Kenzie, who has served in that position for 14 years. (McKenzie will return to RIT’s College of Liberal Arts faculty in the fall quarter, then begin a sabbatical. He will teach again in the fall 2009 quarter, complete his sabbatical and transition into retirement in 2010.)

Haefner currently serves multiple appointments at UCCS as associate vice chancellor for research and innovation, dean of the Graduate School and dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Dr. Jeremy Haefner has all of the experience necessary to fulfill the multiple responsibilities of RIT’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost,” says President Destler. “He is an experienced administrator, educator and researcher who, in his various roles, has materially advanced educational and research programs at UCCS. He has initiated a unique ‘Bachelor of Innovation’ program, and he has encouraged increased technology transfer and entrepreneurial activity among faculty and students. We are delighted to welcome Dr. Haefner into the RIT family.”

“I offer my personal congratulations to Dr. Haefner as well as to the leadership of Rochester Institute of Technology that recognized his talents and abilities,” says UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak. “I am confident that Dr. Haefner’s record of success will continue at RIT.”

During Haefner’s six years as engineering dean at UCCS, the college’s increasing prominence put it among the top 10 public institutions primarily offering master’s degrees, according to U.S. News and World Report. It was also ranked seventh in the nation among public institutions for graduating percentage of women engineers by the American Society for Engineering Education. Since July 2007, as associate vice chancellor, Haefner’s responsibilities have included supervising the Office of Sponsored Programs; overseeing the policies and procedures to ensure research integrity; directing the academic affairs of the National Institute for Science, Space and Security Centers; and directing the Colorado Institute for Technology Transfer and Implementation, a campuswide unit dedicated to supporting economic development through technology innovation.

Additionally, as Graduate School dean during the past year, he has led graduate programs across the UCCS campus, supervising staff for the recruitment and retention of graduate students.

Haefner began his academic career as an assistant professor of mathematics at UCCS in 1989. Following a series of promotions, he eventually served a three-year term as chair of that school’s Department of Mathematics.

“Mathematics has always given me an appreciation for the creative endeavor, and leading a college of engineering has guided me towards the vitality of innovation,” remarks Haefner. “RIT has both characteristics strongly represented in nationally recognized programs, and the institution is well poised to drive the future of 21st century learning.”

Haefner earned both doctorate and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, and he received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Iowa.

Supporting students is new provost's passion

Prior to taking on his new responsibilities, RIT’s new provost, Jeremy Haefner, shared some thoughts about the new job.

What are your priorities as RIT’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs?

One of my first tasks will be to immerse myself into the RIT community, culture, and traditions through active listening and participation. I am eager to get started and build practices of regularly meeting and communicating with all our constituents.

Working with the president and the RIT faculty, students, staff, and administration, a second objective will be to assess and rank the priorities for the provost. This will provide me with a solid foundation for moving forward.

A third objective is to ensure that RIT’s strategic plan and the goals and vision of President Destler are part of our core operations. RIT’s success in the future – moving to the next level of greatness and excellence – will be the result of careful and enthusiastic execution of the strategic plan and goals.

Finally, I am passionate about supporting the campus’s student-centeredness and encouraging the campus to become a national leader in this area. I look forward to building collaborations between and among our students and our faculty.

How would you say the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs differs or is similar to RIT?

Like RIT, UCCS has a focus on innovation, but I am particularly impressed with President Destler’s vision around the fusion of creativity and innovation for RIT. This vision appeals to my “creative” mathematics side and to the “innovation” engineering side.

Another similarity is that both campuses are deeply engaged with the surrounding communities. Cooperative learning experiences, industry research projects, K-12 outreach, and service learning activities are just some of the many examples of community engagement that are so important for higher education institutions. RIT has a great history and foundation for community engagement.

Finally, many of the programs and components that make RIT a “Category of One” institution are also those that differentiate it from other universities. The excellence RIT has achieved in cooperative learning, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and, of course, the unique academic programs are just some of many examples that make RIT a very special place.

What do you see happening at RIT in terms of academic programs as it moves to become known as an “innovation” university?

It would be great to see “innovation” embedded in the culture of RIT: from the academic programs to the student development activities; from the policies and practices of the provost’s operation to pedagogical techniques used by the faculty; from how RIT engages with the community to how we recruit the “new” student.

I really like the notion of celebrating innovation – Imagine RIT: the Innovation + Creativity Festival is a great example. Highlighting the creative and innovative projects and products created by students and faculty is one of the best ways to build the nation’s premier innovation university.

Without question, RIT is a very special institution. President Destler often speaks to our unfair advantage and I couldn’t agree more. Our job will be to creatively and innovatively seize opportunities to make a positive impact.

Paul Stella ’03