VCU announces new provost, begins in March

Austin Walker
Staff Writer

Photo taken by the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Virginia Commonwealth University announced Gail Hackett as the new provost and vice president of academic affairs today in an email sent by university President Michael Rao.

Her position comes into effect on the first of March, when she will be replacing the sitting interim provost John Wiencek, who has served since May 2014.

This comes following a previous search, held by the same committee consisting of 13 members, that did not yield a promising candidate for the position.

Hackett currently holds a doctorate in counseling psychology, a master of education degree in counseling, as well as a bachelor’s in psychology. As provost, she’ll be entering the university as a tenured professor of psychology.

In his email, Rao detailed the reasoning behind the decision of appointing Hackett. He described her as being “a strong and accomplished academic leader and scholar who shares VCU’s commitment to student success and faculty excellence.”

The experience Rao is referring to is Hackett’s position as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City from 2008. Hackett has worked as an assistant professor at Ohio State University, program leader and training director at the University of California, Santa Barbara, professor and vice provost at Arizona State University, and other positions at those universities since 1978.

The committee, tasked with finding the provost, was co-chaired by Dr. David Sarrett and Dr. Susan Gooden.

On the UMKC website’s Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Hackett, they describe their university similarly to VCU as being “a public, urban research university with a specific mission emphasis in the visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.”

In the same document, some of the provided accomplishments include her chair position on the Strategic Planning Committee, the University Budget Committee, and her work on the University Advancement team which yielded a record fundraising year of more than $65M.

As chief academic officer, her job is to oversee the learning experience of the student body. This ranges from managing the recruitment of faculty to ensuring that all the necessary resources are available in the classroom for effective learning. In President Rao’s email, he commended Hackett’s abilities in areas of budgeting, strategic planning, and online learning.

The email concluded with Rao stating the ex-provost, John Wiencek, will remain “an important member of the leadership team.”


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