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September 15, 2010 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-15

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After 24 years at the Ur

professor to University Provost. His
predecessor, like many before her, is
now leading another prestigious uni-
versity. Here's an in-depth look at the
decision to pick Hanlon for the post;
and what he hopes to accomplish in it.

Yet, for as much grinning and hand
shaking as Hanlon may do and as many
presentations as he may give, the lack
of name recognition on campus for the
post of University Provost and the man
who now holds the position isn't sur-
prising. To some degree, it also has to
do with the personality often found in
the individuals who hold the position, a.
personality that is exemplified in Han-
lon's personality. -
His personality is exemplified. by
sense of duty through servant leader-
ship and it's clear that Hanlon, like
many of his predecessors and peers at
other universities across the country,
sets aside his own interests to genuinely
consider different perspectives.
Leaning back in his chair during
a recent meeting with a group of his
senior staff to discuss strategic plan-
ning initiatives, Hanlon was comfort-
able listening to the group's opinions
before verbalizing any of his own. Then,
leaning forward and putting his arms
straight in front of himself on the table,
Hanlon shared his own ideas.
But his philosophy of inclusion, and
the value he places on making sure
issues are given the proper consid-
eration, means he doesn't stop there.
Picking up his pen, he scribbled down
notes when one of his vice provosts
countered his idea with another. Han-
lon didn't interrupt and didn'tlook at all
perturbed when one of his employees
contradicted his original idea. Instead,
Hanlon waved his hands lightly and
asked another question before agreeing
to move forward with the new plan.
But while Hanlon was quickly con-
vinced in the meeting simply by allow-
ing his senior advisors to brainstorm
with him, there's one thing that seems
to grab Hanlon's attention more than
anything, something that Hanlon him-
self admits frequently convinces him of
his course of action - numbers.


hen news broke earlier this
year that former Univer-
sity Provost Teresa Sulli-
van would be leaving to ascend to the
presidency at the University of Vir-
ginia in August, one question rang in
offices from the Duderstadt Center to
the Fleming Administration Building
to Wolverine Tower - who would take

Administration Buildi:
that she discussed the
moting Hanlon with r
executive officers earl,
Coleman admitted,
factor in her decision
cern that the Universi1
Hanlon and Sullivan a,

Thurnau professorship.
In 2001, Hanlon was given an
endowed professorship, being named
the Donald J. Lewis professor of mathe-
matics. The same year, Hanlon received
his first administrative post, becoming
the associate dean for planning and
finance at the College of Literature, Sci-
ence and the Arts - a position which
Hanlon says he never expected to be in.
"That was an opportunity that just
landed unexpectedly in front of me,"
Hanlon said.
From there, the math professor con-
tinued to rise in the administrative
ranks, moving just down the hall from
his current office in 2004 to become
associate provost for academic and bud-
getary affairs. In 2007 he was promoted
to vice provost.
Then, on July 1, Hanlon moved to the
corner-office reserved for the provost.
But such a rise from academic to
administrator was never part of the
"I had no deliberate plan to do
administrative work," he said. "I wish I
could say there was a big plan and that
I followed the plan, but I didn't. It just
sort of, well, things happen and oppor-
tunities arise."
While Hanlon's original career goals
never included becoming a university
administrator, having academic types
lead institutions of higher education
isn't anythingunusual. According to the
academic who leads the University, it's a
logical choice, too.
"I think particularly at the provost

level, well, even at the presidential level,
I think this is true, that for faculty to see
somebody who has combined skills of
both being a great scholar, a great teach-
er and being able to have people skills,
management skills, to conceive strategy
for the University, this is always a plus,"
said Coleman, who holds a Ph.D. in bio-
"I wish I could say th
a big plan and that I f
the plan, but I didn't."
chemistry and was on the faculty at the
University of Kentucky for 19 years.
"Ultimately, the Provost's Office is
the one that ends up making the tenure
decisions, so for the faculty to be confi-
dent of someone in that position ... that's
just a plus," she continued.
Former University Provost Teresa
Sullivan, now the president at the Uni-
versity of Virginia, agreed.
"Phil, as chief academic officer,
really has to understand the issues on
the academic side of the house and that
includes issues like teaching and curric-
ulum and how you deploy faculty time
and also about research," Sullivan said
earlier this month. "All that is integral
to deploying the full academic resourc-
es of the University. So I think that is the
reason that most universities continue
to look for high-achieving academics
in the administration, particular in the
provost's position."
Sullivan also pointed out that other

University officials - like Tim Slottow,
the University's executive vice presi-
dent and chief financial officer, who
does not handle academic affairs at the
University - tend to hold degrees in
more traditional management areas like
On the other hand, Hanlon, who
echoed many of
Coleman's and Sul-
e re was livan's comments,
said it is concerning
ollowed that higher educa-
tion institutions
don't have more
bench strength on
the administrative
"I think it's, you ask an interesting
question, because we have weak train-
ing, weak succession planning for our
administration and leadership," Hanlon
said when asked how universities are
served by having academics lead them.
"It is a miracle, I think sometimes, that
universities do run well because you
have people landing in positions who've
had no training, no formal training
almost, to do what they do. And I'm an
As Hanlon described it, there's noset
"path" for academics to become admin-
istrators. However, once an academic
becomes an administrator, they often
continue to rise through the ranks -
something that's true in the cases of
Hanlon, Sullivan and Coleman. And
once appointed provost, many continue
to rise to the position of university pres-

Sullivan left over the summer to
assume the presidency atthe University
of Virginia. Former University Provost
Nancy Cantor, who served from 1997
to 2001, left the University to assume
the presidency at Syracuse University.
Prior to that, Bernard Machen left the
University after two years as provost to
assume the presidency at the University
of Florida. Charles Vest also served as
the University's provost for a little over
a year before becoming the president at
the National Academy of Engineering.
Others, like James Duderstadt and Har-
old Shapiro, served as University pro-
vosts before being promoted to serve as
the Universitys presidents.
Asked whether Hanlon had the "right
stuff" to become a university president
down the line, Sullivan said she thought
that he did.
"Well, it certainly would not surprise
me," Sullivan said. "I think it's not an
unusual career path. It's not inevitable,
and I understand there's something
of a trend in the United States now for
provosts to decide they don't want to be
presidents. So there are some who don't,
but there certainly are a good number
who do."
However, when asked whether it was
an ambition of his to become a univer-
sity president some day, Hanlon gave a
more indirect answer.
"Well, I'm, let me be provost first,"
Hanlon said with a laugh. "I've only
been provost for two months and right
now I'm just really focused on being
successful and helping the University of

the more unconventional choice of an Carolii
industry-outsider with extensive busi- where;
ness experience - University Presi- "Th
dent Mary Sue Coleman didn't hesitate ing," C
one bit when making her selection. She "I the
chose Phil Hanlon. someo
The choice was made without a becaut
lengthy search or nomination process. too.'
The University didn't hire a headhunt-
er. Less than two weeks from when
Sullivan was publicly named Virginia's For
next president, Hanlon was named her shouk

s well aware nac ne w as a can-
t other places and was being
I by other people we respect, Hanlon, who some may call a "math
stitutions that we respect," she geek," earned a bachelor's degree in
kowledging that at the time mathematics from Dartmouth College
was a finalist for the provost and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the
at the University of North California Institute of Technology.
and was being recruited else- After that, Hanlon worked briefly at
both the California Institute of Tech-
also factored into my think- nology and at the Massachusetts Insti-
leman continued with a laugh. tute'of Technology. Hanlon has worked
ght, 'Hmm, maybe we have at the University of Michigan since
here that we should turn to 1986, rising through both the academic
others are interested in him and administrative ranks.
Starting as an associate professor,
Hanlon became a full professor in 1990.
Two years later, he was awarded the
s much responsibility as he prestigious recognition of an Arthur F.

moment news broke that Sullivan was
"When Terry left, I started think-
ing about whether there were internal
candidates who could step up," Cole-
man said in an interview last week from
her second-story office in the Fleming

Me scenesa- oaen trappeu on te sur
floor of Fleming in a seemingly endless
stream of appointments and meetings.
However, the provost does escape
the confines of his 15' x 15' office and
his 10-person conference room more
often than one might think, frequently
attending meetings, receptions and
events elsewhere on the University's

Provost = President?
Many who have served as the Univer-
sity's provost have gone on to become
university presidents at leading insti-
tutions across the country. This trend
isn't unique to the University of Michi-
gan, however. At many institutions, the
position has been used as a launching
pad for academic presidencies.

2010-present 2004-present
President President
University of Virginia Syracuse University

2004-present 1988-1996
President President
Nat'l Academy of Engineering University of Michigan

University of Florida

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