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Hay out as provost

Former UA Provost Meredith Hay

The UA is losing another member of its administration.

Provost Meredith Hay officially left the UA to assume a position with the Arizona Board of Regents on Aug. 1. Hay has held the position of provost, the university’s chief academic officer, since February 2008.

Hay is the third member of the UA administration to announce their departure this summer, along with former President Robert Shelton, who became executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, also on Aug. 1, and Steve MacCarthy, who is leaving his post as the UA’s vice president for external relations to assume a similar position at the University of Pennsylvania.

“”I believe that taking into consideration the overall experience and the tremendous strength of our academic and administrative leaders throughout the university, these changes will enable me to accomplish my principal goal of making the University of Arizona attractive to an exceptional new president,”” wrote UA interim President Eugene Sander in a campus email announcing the move.

Sander later said he had no additional comments outside of the email.

Hay will become special adviser to the board chair for strategic initiatives, working directly under new regents Chairman Fred DuVal.

“”I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Hay to the university system office,”” DuVal said in a release. “”Meredith brings tremendous expertise in strategic planning to the table and her insight will be invaluable to the board as we continue to implement our strategic plan and enhance our operations to better serve students and the state.””

Hay wrote in an email that she is honored and proud to assume her new position.

“”(The) Board of Regents has launched a very ambitious and forward thinking Enterprise Initiative to develop a performance funding model and new approaches to budget and finance,”” Hay wrote. “”This effort is going to reshape the way higher education is delivered in Arizona and will be a model for the entire country. I look forward to assisting ABOR leadership and the state in achieving these goals.””

Hay will continue to serve as a UA faculty member. She will remain on the UA payroll for the remainder of her contract, which expires in a year, and receive  $350,000 in salary. Hay will not receive additional compensation from the regents, according to spokeswoman Katie Paquet.   

Jacqueline Lee Mok, the UA’s senior vice president and chief of staff, has assumed the duties of the provost until a long-term replacement can be found. Mok will also serve as senior vice president for academic affairs. With the move, Mok’s salary will jump from $200,000 to $300,000.

Mok said Hay’s departure, and her taking over the position, happened on an “”escalated timescale”” within the last week. Despite the abruptness of the move, Mok said she believes her past experience working with Sander during his time as interim provost in 2007 and her time in the president’s office would smooth the transition.

“”I have a real strong understanding of our academic programs and how they operate,”” Mok said.

She also said that she doesn’t believe Hay’s departure would set the university back heading into the next academic year, particularly taking into account existing faculty and student leadership.

“”This is a university where the possibilities continue to be very, very strong and we won’t lose a step in continuing to advance the university,”” Mok said.   

JC Mutchler, an associate professor at UA South and secretary of the Faculty Senate, said the move, though not necessarily expected, is not unprecedented.

“”I think it’s not unusual, when a president leaves, for there to be other top-level administrators to leave,”” Mutchler said.  

Mutchler acknowledged Hay’s sometimes-contentious dealings with university faculty, ones which led to a vote of “”no confidence”” in her as provost during an anonymous faculty poll in 2009, but praised her efforts to rebrand herself in the aftermath.

“”I think Meredith has worked to her utmost ability to improve her skills and to learn from her mistakes and improve on her relationship with faculty,”” Mutchler said.

As for Mok, Mutchler said the “”vast majority of faculty”” he knows like her, and that he has always “”found her to be very cooperative, very fair, very consensus-building and very much a top-notch administrator.””

Like Mok, Mutchler said he didn’t think changes at the top levels would be a detriment to the university moving forward.

“”Robert Shelton said many times that a great university is about great faculty, and I would add great students to that,”” Mutchler said. “”So the core of the UA is still here. And so long as that’s true the U of A will continue to be a great and extraordinary university.””

James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said Hay’s departure was sudden, but that he did not think it would affect ASUA’s relationship with the UA administration. He also said he thinks both Sander and Mok keep student interests in mind and that he anticipates a fruitful relationship working with both.

Allen wished both Hay and Shelton luck moving forward and said he views the change in leadership as a continued opportunity to strengthen the UA’s shared governance of collaborative leadership among students, faculty, staff and administration.

“”This is a tremendous year of change (in leadership),”” Allen said, “”but we need to embrace that change and move forward.””

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