'There'll be no treading water' Dean Knapp Ready to Take on Array of Issues as Interim Provost Steve Libowitz ------------------------- Editor It took Steve Knapp longer than he expected to move his belongings to the Provost's Office, but it took him no time at all to attack the challenges awaiting him there. Knapp, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, spent the normally relaxing holiday season preparing to take on the additional responsibilities of interim provost following Joseph Cooper's resignation effective Jan. 1. While he admits it is a big job--especially since he will also continue as dean-- he's not exactly a newcomer to the issues he faces. "Many of the meetings I went to as dean are the same meetings I'll go to as provost," he said. "A lot of the Homewood issues are university issues." Although Knapp has not considered whether he wants to be the full-time provost, he plans to go about his business as if it were a permanent appointment. He already is tackling a rather full "to do" list. "There'll be no treading water," he said. One front-burner task, he said, is to fill another vacancy: dean of the School of Medicine, a post to be vacated in June by Michael Johns, who announced on Dec. 20 that he would leave Hopkins on July 1. Also high on his agenda is implementing a wide range of recommendations included in the C-21 report, such as working out a governance structure for the information network, now that Dave Kingsbury has been named chief information officer. "There are still many things to be worked out in terms of structure of information across the university," Knapp said. "This is something I was working on before, and it's one of the major initiatives Provost Cooper passed on to me," he said. Another important element of the C-21 report, which Knapp has been dealing with in Arts and Sciences, is improving the undergraduate experience. On one front, Knapp, along with interim President Daniel Nathans, trustee Michael Bloomberg and others, have been actively exploring ways to move forward on building the proposed Homewood campus student/performing arts center. Knapp has been influential in supporting efforts to provide some structure to the freshman year, an effort that recently resulted in a $150,000 two-year grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (The Gazette, Dec. 4, 1995) to implement a general education program for freshmen. The interim provost also wants to move forward on the C-21 recommendation for greater internationalization. "This was a key emphasis of the report," Knapp said. "Arts and Sciences is very interested in internationalizing the experience of our students by developing study abroad programs managed by Hopkins, which we have not had in the past. All the divisions have an interest in pursuing this, and the Provost's Office is the natural place from which to coordinate these efforts." But academic centralization is not part of Knapp's strategy, as it has not been of past provosts. "Because Hopkins is strongly decentralized with a strong tradition of divisional autonomy, the provost's role here is--and ought to be--one of facilitating communication, coordinating efforts, finding common opportunities," he said. "For example, helping to coordinate cooperative research ventures." Knapp will also address the needs of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, concentrate on issues of faculty and student body diversity, lead the effort to improve the financial foundation of the university and keep Hopkins competitive in its effort to attract the best students. As the last boxes are moved from the Dean's Office to the Provost's Office, Knapp is confident that he can successfully maintain momentum and make significant progress in both his jobs. He has shifted some responsibilities within Arts and Sciences, and will have an assistant working in the Provost's Office who will serve as a liaison to the division as he maintains his relationship with the division's faculty and department chairs. Knapp also said he will follow up on the division's fundraising campaign. "There's no doubt it's a complicated time, and there's a lot to learn about East Baltimore and Peabody and SAIS and APL. But I'm confident that with the very strong staff in both offices, there are numerous people I can rely on, and there's a good deal of continuity, to ensure the university remains on its already steady academic course."
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