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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Provost aims to reinforce the UA’s ‘world-class experience’

Hailey Eisenbach/Arizona Summer Wildcat Andrew Comrie was named the new UA provost and senior vice president of academic affairs last week. Comrie, a climatology expert in the School of Geography and Development, previously served as the dean of the Graduate College.

Without the accent, some may never guess that UA Provost Andrew Comrie was from another continent. The Cape Town, South Africa native, who will also serve as senior vice president of academic affairs, was appointed by President Hart last week.

Comrie, a climatology expert, has worked at the UA for the past 20 years in the School of Geography and Development, and most recently served as the associate vice president for research and dean of the graduate college. As for the recent appointment, Comrie said he appreciates the support and recognition.

“It’s obviously a big honor to be recognized by not just the president as a new leader here, but frankly just having a lot of support from my peers,” Comrie said. “More importantly, it’s really a great opportunity to do stuff I really believe in.”

He added that, as a professor or researcher, it’s nice to observe students discover what career they want to pursue. As a provost overseeing a number of different colleges, Comrie said he’ll be able to see that happen much more often.

Even with the new responsibilities, Comrie still has plans to continue his research in climatology and is will continue working with several students in the department.

“Once you’ve studied something and become an expert in it, you never lose that,” he added.

In regards to goals for his upcoming term, Comrie said he plans to prioritize the basics, like class availability and ensuring that assigned classrooms are large enough to hold the number of students enrolled in the course. While he admits such issues aren’t “particularly exciting-sounding,” Comrie said they are important in the long run.

Another priority includes implementing the state-mandated performance-based funding model, instated at the Arizona Board of Regents’ most recent meeting in Flagstaff. While the new model applies to all Arizona universities, Comrie said a UA-specific plan is necessary.

Also on the administration’s radar is a revenue-generation model known as responsibility-centered management, an incentive-based teaching revenue plan that was recently put on hold. Comrie said he plans to get the model up and running once again, but added that many of the administration’s goals come with challenges.

“We’re still in a very resource-constrained environment,” he said, referring to various budgetary constraints the UA has been facing. Without the money to complete them, he added, several other projects have been delayed, creating obstacles for others.

“It’s a big budgetary and management juggle to go for excellence all around,” he said.

Despite the challenges that are ahead, Comrie said he is most excited to help strengthen the university on an academic level, and reinforce the idea of providing a “life-changing” experience for students and faculty — an experience he advises everyone take advantage of.

“This is a truly great university,” he said. “We forget sometimes just what sort of quality and caliber we have here at the U of A, and it’s a massive opportunity for a motivated student to get a totally world-class education, and so what I would do is urge students to make the very, very best of that.”

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