Dear USF Community,
After a great deal of conversation and reflection, I have accepted Don Heller’s decision to step down this week from his position as USF’s vice president of academic affairs and provost. Don has graciously agreed to help me ensure a smooth transition and he will continue to assist me as an employee of the university with several important initiatives in the short term.
My partnership with Don over the past four years has been important to USF and personally gratifying to me. I want to thank him for his service and leadership. His commitment to the mission of the university and our students has always been his highest priority. This has manifested in progress in our enrollment and retention rates, in measures such as students out-performing predicted graduation rates, the rollout of innovative academic initiatives, and in steps taken to strengthen and sustain USF.
Yet this is the time to embark on a search for Don’s permanent successor. Soon I will be naming a search committee, in close consultation with my leadership team, members of the faculty leadership, and student leaders.
I have named University Library Dean Dr. Tyrone Cannon interim provost. I am delighted to welcome Tyrone to this interim role. In his nearly 25 years as dean at USF, Tyrone has not only led the libraries, but has also served in a variety of academic leadership roles, including as a member of the President’s Leadership Team, Provost Council, and Council of Deans.
I am also pleased to share with you that James L. Wiser, former USF provost and vice president of academic affairs has agreed to serve as an adviser to both Tyrone Cannon and the next provost. Jim’s many years of experience and his deep knowledge of USF and our community will be of great value to us as we move forward. He served as provost from 1998–2010 and returned in an interim role from 2015–16.
In the coming days and weeks, I will be making further announcements related to our efforts to improve shared governance, transparency in communications, and leadership structure. I will be making these policy changes in close collaboration with students, faculty, and staff. I am committed to continuing to hearing from and talking to all members of our community as we move forward, and I will share further updates with you as we progress.
Thank you for all you do to advance our mission and support the values of our beloved community.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.