After 13 years as Provost, Charles E. Phelps will leave his post as UR’s chief academic officer at end of this academic year, President Joel Seligman announced today.
“I’m stepping down from the Provost job, but I am not leaving the University,” Phelps said. “I have some sabbatic leave that I’m going to take to recharge. This is good time for transition. Thirteen years is longer than almost any of my peer provosts have done.”
While on sabbatical, Phelps will pursue his ongoing research into the economics of health care and complete his book on how non-profit organizations fit into the economy.
Phelps is unsure if he is going to return to the University after his sabbatical, noting it will be something he is going to consider while away from the University. He will, however, stay in his current position until a new Provost is named.
As provost, Phelps is responsible for academic programs, supervising the deans of each school, working with faculty directly through various committees and groups, and representing UR in matters relating to academic enterprise.
The provost directly supervises, in addition to the deans of the schools, the University Dean of Graduate Studies, the Dean of the River Campus Libraries, the Vice Provost for Information Technology, the University’s Technology Transfer Office, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and University-wide activities such as the Intercessor’s program, the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, as well as services including the University Health Service, according to his Web site.
Together with former President Thomas Jackson, Phelps was a key player in the development of the Rochester Renaissance Plan, a series of initiatives launched in the fall of 1995 aimed at rejuvenating The College. The plan included a new undergraduate curriculum, a reduction in the size of the undergraduate class, and efforts to create a more residential campus by requiring all freshmen to live on campus.
“We wanted to improve the quality of the student body and we did that by becoming more selective,” Phelps said. “The student body is a much higher quality, we have much better retention of the students than we used to have, and much happier students.”
Phelps cites the people he helped bring to UR as one of his greatest legacies.
“Essentially I am responsible for almost all of the upper leadership at the University, for better of for worse, and I am pretty proud of the way that came out,” Phelps said. “The people I brought here are one of my important accomplishments.”
Phelps started at UR in 1984 as a professor and director of the Public Policy Analysis Program, a graduate program offered by the Political Science Department in conjunction with the Economics Department. He was named provost in 1984. Before coming to Rochester, he worked as a senior economist at the RAND Corporation.
Phelps believes the key to a successful future for UR lies in increasing its endowment.
“It’s a complicated competitive world in higher education in the United States and resources matter a lot more so all the work that President Seligman is doing to enhance the endowment resources, for example, is really important and a big challenge,” Phelps said. “In truth your tuition, as outrageously high as it seem seems, does not come close to covering the cost of your education here so we pour about $70 million a year in earnings off of the endowment that go in to support the education enterprise. In The College alone, it’s probably about $25 million. The more we can add to that the stronger we can make the faculty.” Bruml is a member of the class of 2008.