Our Progress: Transforming Academic Excellence

Yesterday morning, I had another thoughtful and engaging conversation with the staff in Academic Excellence—the support units that focus on our top priority, student success. It was another meeting in a series of town halls I’ve held with this group since the spring, when we began the Office of the Provost realignment in earnest.

You can view my presentation here.

We spent the majority of our time discussing the realignment of the new division, Student and Academic Life (SAL), as the first phase of the realignment focused on this area. And, while we have made progress in integrating the organizational structure of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education into the new division, Student and Academic Life, we still have work to do.

We’re continuing to evaluate how we can best match money with mission and ensure that we’re creating the best organization—structurally—to support student success.

To that end, we have begun posting new positions within Student and Academic Life, and will continue to post more in the coming weeks. You can see the breakdown of these types of positions in the presentation linked above.

At the town hall in July, I announced the interim Student and Academic Life leaders who have already begun working to build the new organizational structure, while also maintaining business continuity as we welcome a new incoming class of students.


Victor Hazard will serve as the interim associate provost for student and academic life.

Nick Kehrwald will serve as the interim dean of students.

Phil Kraemer will serve as the interim assistant provost for academic enrichment.

Adrienne McMahan will serve as the interim assistant provost for student and academic services.

Drew Smith will serve as the interim assistant provost for health and wellness.


We are also forming a search committee for the permanent associate provost for Student and Academic Life. We will begin conducting stakeholder interviews, as a part of this proccess, later this month.

Next month, we will begin bringing the entire Student and Academic Life division together, through a series of retreats and workshops, to continue developing a divisional culture. We’ve begun this process already, through meetings with teams, leaders and individual colleagues.

And as we continue to move forward, it is important to remind ourselves of why we’re undergoing this realignment. It underscores our ultimate vision: creating the best possible environment to support student success. We are aligning our resources to accomplish this important goal.

We are investing more – and more strategically – in our students.

Furthermore, we aim to create a truly integrated, holistic model: one that aligns functionality of the Academic Excellence units with the efforts of the colleges. 

We believe that these changes are necessary to meet our ambitious objectives outlined in our Strategic Plan. The plan charts our course to become one of the country’s leading public, residential research universities, envisioning retention rates of 90 percent; graduation rates at 70 percent; and a significant closure of the gap in retention and graduation rates that exist for underrepresented student populations.

We know that making this kind of swift and dramatic progress will require a more seamless and integrated approach to our efforts. To reach these goals, we must think and act differently. And we must make dramatic change now.

Over the course of the fall, we will begin working with Enrollment Management, another crucial unit supporting student success. EM’s role is critical to the financial health, mission and vision of the institution. As with all areas, we want to maximize its strengths while looking for opportunities to improve.

We’ll also announce realignment efforts within the UK International Center and the UK Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching later this academic year. Sue Roberts recently assumed the role of associate provost for internationalization. She will be working with our team as a crucial partner. 

I would like to thank each and every employee in the Academic Excellence organization for your patience, counsel and good faith as we continue to move through this process together. While this process has involved very difficult decisions—which were certainly not taken lightly—I’ve seen touching demonstrations of your commitment to our students and their experiences.

I’ve heard you, throughout this process, express your deep convictions and desire for our shared vision. I’m grateful for everything you do.


Tim Tracy