Winter 2013: College Hires First Provost

By Peter Rooney

[Administration] The college has expanded President Biddy Martin’s administration to include, for the first time in Amherst history, a provost.

He is Peter Uvin, academic dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of Inter­national Humanitarian Studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Uvin will arrive at Amherst this summer. He will report to the pre­sident and serve on the same level as the dean of the faculty and dean of students.

“Peter brings a rare combination of scholarly and administrative achieve­ment,” says Martin, who chaired the provost search committee. “He is smart, creative, deft and funny. He is committed to the values we hold dear at Amherst and will play a significant role in advancing them.”

Uvin, 50, was selected from among 11 semifinalists for a position that will include strategic planning and coordinating across academic and administrative areas. He will also pursue international initiatives. In addition, he will lead efforts to “help knit diversity into the fabric of our culture,” Martin says.

“He brings to the college deep knowledge and experience—with respect not only to higher education and academic administration but also to the realities of a diverse and globalizing world,” says Cullen Murphy ’74, chairman of the Amherst board of trustees.

A native of Belgium, Uvin holds a Ph.D. in political science from Switzerland’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. His academic expertise is in development, conflict and human rights in Africa, with a focus on the African Great Lakes region. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and his book Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda received the African Studies Association’s 1999 Herskovits Award.

Professor of Physics Kannan Jagannathan says that when he first interviewed and read about Uvin, he found him to be an ideal candidate: “He has brought to bear his great intellectual power to some of the most pressing humanitarian crises of our time. His work and experience have led him to value and have great faith in deliberative democracy. He is also tough-minded and asks hard questions. He combines these qualities with self-effacing humor and great skill as an executive who gets people together to get things done.”