By Jessica Bakeman
ALBANY The State University of New York will begin a national search for a new provost, a high-level administrative position responsible for overseeing academics, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced Wednesday.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger will lead the search committee for a new provost, which is essentially the No. 2 leadership position of the 64-campus system.
Zimpher will soon begin selecting committee members, and she's expected to appoint an interim provost after David Lavallee, who holds the position now, steps down July 31, a spokesman said.
Lavallee, 67, decided to return to his tenured faculty position at SUNY New Paltz in Ulster County. A internationally renown chemist, Lavallee will mentor science faculty at the college while also developing a system-wide leadership workshop series for campus administrators.
"Academic affairs at SUNY have made unprecedented strides under David's leadership, and we are so pleased that his valuable service to SUNY will continue at New Paltz," Zimpher said in a statement Wednesday. "The entire university system has reaped the benefits of David's vision, knowledge, and commitment to building a stronger university, and we cannot thank him enough."
Lavallee recently helped develop Open SUNY, an initiative that will allow students to take online courses offered at any of the system's campuses. He shaped SUNY's enrollment strategy, which is aimed at growing programs in high-demand job fields, and worked with the colleges to find areas where they could save money by sharing personnel and services.
"Working with Chancellor Zimpher and the Board of Trustees to expand opportunities for our students has been the experience of a lifetime, and I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity," Lavallee said in a statement. "The incredible progress we have made together in just four years would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Office of Academic Affairs staff."
In 2012, Lavallee earned $316,490, according to state records. SUNY spokesman David Doyle said he salary will be cut in half when he steps down.
Before taking the administrative position in Albany, Lavallee served as New Paltz's provost for 10 years. He has also worked in New York City's public universities and in Colorado.
Once Zimpher compiles the search committee, the group will accept applications and narrow the pool down to a select few candidates. Zimpher will choose a final candidate and seek the SUNY Board of Trustees' approval.
There is not a set timeline for filling the position.
"The chancellor's intention is to move expeditiously," Doyle said.