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Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:04 a.m.

University of Michigan taps vice provost Martha Pollack as school's new chief academic officer

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon's second in command has been selected as his successor after he steps down in May to become president of Dartmouth College.

Martha Pollack, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and former dean of U-M's school of information, has been appointed provost of the Ann Arbor school.


Martha Pollack has been named University of Michigan's next provost.

"She has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities currently facing higher education," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, who appointed Pollack, said in a statement, adding that Pollack is an "effective leader" who has a "disciplined approach to finances."

At U-M, the provost is both the chief budgeter and in charge of the school's academic arm. Pollack has served as vice provost since 2010.

Pollack has been a visible vice provost, co-teaching a mini-course on the university budget with Hanlon (the course, according to Hanlon, was Pollack's brainchild), briefing the press on tuition changes, speaking before regents about Coursera and discussing facility space planning with faculty leaders.

Coleman said she has "deep knowledge of this institution that is grounded in her work as a faculty member, department chair and dean."

She has worked on a range of projects, from embracing massive online open courses to helping set cost and financial aid packages for undergraduates to assisting in the mechanics of faculty recruitment.

Prior to becoming vice provost, Pollack was leader of the School of Information from 2007 to 2010 and an assistant chair of the computer science and engineering department. Pollack is an expert in artificial intelligence.

She joined U-M faculty in 2000 and was previously a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She also worked for SRI International, a large research institute.

She has served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, as president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and on the advisory boards of the National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division and the Computing Research Association.

Pollack received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and master's and doctoral degrees in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Pollack's two-year appointment is set for May 6.


Philip Hanlon is leaving University of Michigan for Dartmouth College.

Hanlon announced in late December that he is stepping down to become president of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire.

He joins a long list of U-M provosts that have left their posts to lead top colleges, including Teresa Sullivan who left for the presidency at University of Virginia, Nancy Cantor who is now president of Syracuse University and Bernard Machen, now the leader of the University of Florida.

Others, like James Duderstadt in the late 1980s, transitioned from the provost role to U-M's presidency. As Coleman is expected to step down in 2014, Pollack will have a chance to vie for the U-M presidency if she's interested.

Prior to becoming provost in 2010, Hanlon served as vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and assistant dean in the College of Literature, Science and Arts. He has been with the university for more than 26 years. His Dartmouth appointment begins in July.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

"Chief Academic Officer" sounds like another fluffed-up executive role - as in, another reason tuition is soaring at places like the University. This position may or may not be a fluffier one than "vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs." I can only imagine how many provosts/vice provosts/assistant provosts for academic and budgetary affairs exist, but my guess is that there's more than one. While we congratulate this woman - who no doubt earned her roles and is proud of her achievement - let's all ask ourselves if the inflation in the administrative roles within the University justifies the massive inflation of tuition here, and the subsequent contribution to the massive debt loads experienced by recent graduates.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

Pollack is going to be the provost. Her title is not "chief academic officer."


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

If the University of Michigan were a Fortune 500 organization, it would have collapsed under it's own top-heavy weight at this point. "Some" senior management is key. You should read into the tremendous rise in administrative and executive roles in higher education these days (search on the term "administrative bloat"). There is no shortage of information out there.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

UofM is a very complex organization that would be a Fortune 500 company if was for profit. You need some senior managment to run it.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

SRI International was a very, very advanced think-tank once. If Ms. Pollack worked there as a scientist and has a doctorate in information theory and understands the potential U opportunities for online education, she'll do. Speaking of the University and its future internet footprint, for all those who thought they could be a well-paid Social Media Director, now is your chance - again.

Chester Drawers

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

If you're referring to the little city in Kansas, you've got it right!

Chester Drawers

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Kellie, If, in the 9th paragraph, you are referring to the large city in western Pennsylvania, it is spelled PittsburgH.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Indeed! Sorry for the typo!

Ghost of Tom Joad

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Congratulations to Dr. Pollock. She's been a valuable asset to the university for years, and she will be a great fit for this position.