Boston University has new administrative leadership going into the 2023-2024 academic year, following Jason Campbell-Foster’s appointment as the new Dean of Students, President Robert Brown’s retirement and Provost Jean Morrison stepping down.
Although there is a change in leadership, BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that BU is in “very good hands.”
“We have been extraordinarily fortunate over the years with forward-looking and strategic-thinking senior leadership at the University’s helm, and I certainly expect that will continue,” Riley wrote.
The changes in leadership started in June 2022 when then-Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore announced he was leaving BU after 19 years to become the president of Dean College.
Campbell-Foster became interim dean of students in July 2022 and was appointed the permanent position in May 2023 by a search committee.
Campbell-Foster said he is “very excited” and “jazzed” about his new position.
“BU is a really incredible place not only for students, but also for staff and faculty,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting to work in the new official role and really creating positive experiences for our students.”
BU had another leadership position to fill when President Brown announced in September he would retire at the end of the academic year.
“Helping lead Boston University has been the most fulfilling work of my professional career,” Brown wrote in a letter announcing his retirement.
A search committee was created last fall and has not found a permanent president yet.
The Board of Trustees appointed Kenneth Freeman, vice president and associate provost and dean emeritus of the Questrom School of Business, as the interim president starting Aug. 1.
The Board of Trustees opted for an interim president so they could continue searching for a “worthy successor” in a “careful, unhurried and strategic way” after Brown leaves on July 31, according to an email the Board of Trustees sent to the university in May.
“Every institution goes through senior leadership changes and we are fortunate to have Ken Freeman beginning as interim president on Aug. 1,” Riley wrote in an email to the Daily Free Press.
More recently, President Brown announced Provost Morrison is stepping down at the end of June after 12 years in the position.
Brown wrote in a letter to the university on May 12 that Morrison was “the best university administrator” to work with in his nearly 40 years of leadership at BU.
“Those of us who work closely with Jean have witnessed daily the wise, informed and reflective leadership she brings to the innumerable decisions, big and small, the University Provost must make,” Brown wrote in the letter.
Brown appointed Kenneth Lutchen, dean of the College of Engineering, as the interim provost, according to a letter sent out to the University on May 31.
Lutchen, who will officially assume his new role on July 1, will work closely with Brown in his final month as president and then begin working with Interim President Freeman on Aug. 1, according to the letter.
“Lutchen is well-suited by experience and stature to lead the University’s academic enterprise through the transition,” Brown wrote. “Ken has the knowledge and well-tested judgment to make the difficult decisions about personnel and resources that are essential to maintaining the momentum of the University.”
Brown did not appoint a permanent provost because “it is not appropriate” to do so during a presidential transition, he wrote in the May 12 letter.
Morrison accomplished many things during her 14 years as provost, including the development of the BU Hub — BU’s undergraduate general education requirement — the creation of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the launch of the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences.
Morrison will take a yearlong sabbatical and then return to join the University’s faculty.
The president’s office did not respond to a request for comment and the provost’s office declined to comment at this time.
In an interview with the Daily Free Press in May, President Brown reflected on his time at BU and retiring.
“It’s a very odd feeling. Especially after 18 years, it’s very complicated. Think about stepping out of something you’ve done your entire life. It’s really stepping away from something that becomes very much a part of you,” Brown said in the interview.
Brown’s 18 years helped the university in many ways, including getting BU admitted to the Association of American Universities and leading BU’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, which raised $1.85 billion.
Incoming university leaders, like Dean Campbell-Foster, are already preparing for the upcoming academic year and welcoming new students.
“It’s really important for me to introduce myself and my colleagues [during orientation] as a reassuring, supportive force who’s here to help make those students successful,” Campbell-Foster said.
Campbell-Foster’s top priorities are to continue promoting student success, enhance the student experience and foster safe and inclusive community spaces, he said.
In an effort to increase engagement with students, the dean of students office is launching the dean’s student cabinet. Students will be appointed to the cabinet and will meet on a monthly basis with the dean to discuss issues, collaborate with one another and share how they feel the dean of students office is doing, he said.
The creation of the dean’s student cabinet comes after students asked to be more involved in university decisions, such as divesting from civilian firearm manufacturers and the search for the new dean of students back in October.
BU StuGov President and senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, Dhruv Kapadia, said university decisions, like filling leadership positions, should incorporate students’ opinions.
“Not having student opinion on it, I think ultimately makes their life harder on the search committee because they don’t know what students want, what are the actual characteristics and priorities of those people that students want to see,” Kapadia said.
Kapadia said it’s “frustrating” that students weren’t able to share their thoughts in the initial search committees, especially since the president search committee did not find a viable candidate by the end of year.
“I really do hope they see this as a sign that maybe it is more effective to get students involved rather than just having Board of Trustees members, Deans and higher faculty,” he said.
Kapadia said he hopes the next provost will prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion and diversifying faculty and is responsive to the student body.