Honored, Humbled and Committed to Serve

To Our Faculty and Staff:

I am honored and humbled to write today as Case Western Reserve’s interim provost.

Honored, because over the past three years I have seen our community demonstrate extraordinary courage, compassion and conviction.

Humbled, because I recognize the immense impact we can have when we combine those qualities with our mission to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

I will begin by thanking Provost Ben Vinson for his vision and leadership as we wish him great success as Howard University’s next president. I also want to recognize Professor Lee Thompson for her exceptional service as the senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and for her acceptance of the role of interim dean. Finally, I am profoundly grateful to President Eric Kaler for this opportunity; I am committed to partnering with him to accomplish the important priorities he has articulated for our university.

Advancing diversity, inclusion and equity remains a critical component of meeting all of our priorities—and of everything that we do. As President Kaler wrote after last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on admissions, we will comply with the law, and also maintain an unwavering dedication to those core values. I will work with him, and all of you, in striving to ensure that every person on our campus feels welcome, valued and supported.

Another of our core priorities is expanding research. Last month’s announcement of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB) marked a major step forward—as did news of the significant support already secured. The prospect of such flexible, state-of-the-art space has already energized faculty. As we design this building, we will focus not only on researchers who will ultimately move into this space, but also on creating a location where colleagues from across campus can come together to share ideas and create momentum for solving real challenges. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our research leader, Michael Oakes, engineering Dean Ragu Balakrishnan and many others to realize the tremendous possibilities that this building offers.

Another priority is elevating academic excellence. The start of this academic year marks two major changes for undergraduates—implementation of Unified General Education Requirements and establishment of a new Undergraduate Advising Support Office. Either would be significant in its own right; accomplishing both together requires great patience, understanding and a shared commitment to addressing students’ best interests. I am eager to engage with more faculty and staff  to ensure that our students’ experience here enables them to succeed in this rapidly changing world. I am also most thankful to Lisa Camp for helping to lead these efforts with such care and clarity.  

The third priority is enhancing community engagement. The design of the ISEB’s westward-facing façade powerfully symbolizes a welcoming to our community. The announcement of the Sara and Curt Moll Institute for Mental Health and Well-Being represents another remarkable opportunity to benefit our community—both by increasing the number of highly qualified caregivers in greater Cleveland, and also through breakthrough research in advancing mental health.

From the moment I first visited Case Western Reserve, I recognized it was a special place. Many experiences since have only reinforced my early impressions. I am excited to engage with you in new ways and to meet many more of you over the coming months. Finally, I will do all that I can to serve and support this institution as your interim provost.

Most sincerely,

Joy K. Ward
Interim Provost