The Board of Trustees appointed College Provost Carol Folt as Dartmouth’s interim president following the Monday selection of College President Jim Yong Kim as head of the World Bank, according to a College press release. Kim will step down on June 30 after less than three years in office, the second shortest presidential tenure in College history. Folt will begin work as interim president on July 1.
Folt, who is Dartmouth’s chief academic officer and the second highest ranking College administrator, assumed the role of provost in 2009 after three years of serving as dean of the faculty. Her appointment marks the first time a woman has held the College’s top leadership position. Folt told the Board of Trustees that she will not seek the permanent presidency.
“We have an exciting year ahead of us, with much work to be done, and are fortunate that Provost Folt has agreed to serve Dartmouth as interim president,” Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Mandel ’78 said in the release. “She will provide leadership to all parts of our campus and continue to lead the strategic planning process, which is a top priority for the Board. The trustees all agree that Dartmouth will thrive under Carol’s leadership through this important transitional period.”
Beginning in 2010, Folt has worked with Kim to lead the College’s strategic planning process, which is aimed at supporting faculty, strengthening the College’s curriculum and improving student education following significant budget cuts and administrative restructuring.
As interim president, she will continue to work with faculty and the Board to maintain these goals, according to the release. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee, of which Folt and Kim are co-chairs, aims to approve all final recommendations from seven strategic planning working groups by December 2012, those involved in the process previously told The Dartmouth.
Folt and Chief Financial Officer Steven Kadish led Dartmouth’s efforts to resolve the College’s $100-million budget gap under Kim’s direction, according to the release.
Folt replaced former Provost Barry Scherr, one of several high-level administrators to leave the College in 2009, including former Dean of the College Tom Crady, former Dean of Undergraduate Students Rovana Popoff and former Dean of First-Year Students Gail Zimmerman.
Folt has served as a senior administrator since 2001, when she was named dean of graduate studies. In 2004, she was appointed dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and in 2006 became dean of the faculty. She began teaching at the College in 1983.
Folt said she is “honored” to lead the College as it begins the search for a new president.
“I have had a wonderful opportunity to work closely with President Kim to build on Dartmouth’s traditional strengths and develop new initiatives during his very dynamic presidency,” she said in the release. “I look forward to working closely with all members of the Dartmouth community to maintain the vitality of our campus, strengthen existing and new initiatives and sharpen priorities.”
Folt’s appointment comes on the heels of a series of resignations of female administrators, primarily in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. In March, Nora Yasumura resigned from her post as assistant dean and advisor to Asian and Asian-American students. Former advisor to black students Samantha Ivery, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Colleen Larimore ’85 and former Acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears all resigned last winter.
Kim applauded the Board’s appointment of Folt as interim president.
“[Folt’s] sure leadership and intimate knowledge of the College make her an outstanding choice for interim president,” Kim said. “She is committed to strengthening Dartmouth’s mission of education and research in order to prepare students and future generations of students for a rapidly changing world.”
Folt’s tenure as dean of the faculty received some criticism from prominent professors, who cited incompatibility with her administration as the reason for their departure. Jon Appleton, a former music professor at Dartmouth, previously told The Dartmouth that Folt was an “ineffective” administrator and that she contributed to a decline in the intellectual atmosphere at the College.
Appleton called Folt a “puppet” whose sole interest was her “career in administration.”
Biology professor Roger Sloboda, however, lauded Folt’s achievements in her six years as dean of the faculty in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
“She was a very strong proponent of strong teaching and research, always looking out for faculty salaries and benefits,” he said. “She was a good representative of the faculty in discussion with administration. She’s not the kind of person to advertise everything she’s doing and brag about it.”
An expert on metal toxicity, Folt has explored the effects of mercury and arsenic on human health, salmon restoration and global climate change. In 2010, Folt was named to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Folt graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and a master’s degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received a PhD from the University of California, Davis.
Mandel also commended Kim on his appointment to the World Bank presidency in the release.
“The Trustees congratulate President Kim on the tremendous honor of being chosen as president of the World Bank, one of the most critical institutions fighting poverty in the world,” Mandel said. “We have immense respect for Jim as a leader and human being, and are proud of his contributions at Dartmouth and in the world.”
The Board of Trustees will announce the chair of the presidential search committee that will select the College’s 18th president on Thursday, according to the press release.