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Rachel Croson hired as next University of Minnesota provost

As Gabel’s most significant hire to date, Croson will be the second-highest ranking official in the U system.
Rachel Croson, a candidate for the University of Minnesotas provost position, spoke at a public forum on Oct. 7.
Image by Hana Ikramuddin

Rachel Croson, a candidate for the University of Minnesota’s provost position, spoke at a public forum on Oct. 7.

Rachel Croson will be the next executive vice president and provost at the University of Minnesota, pending Board of Regents approval.

In a systemwide email on Wednesday, President Joan Gabel heralded Croson as representing “the very best of the academy,” saying she brings “an extraordinary breadth of talent, experience, and strategic acumen” to the second-highest ranking job in the system.

The hire ends a more than seven-month long process to find the University’s next chief academic officer who will replace current Provost Karen Hanson. Coming from Michigan State University where she serves as dean of the College of Social Sciences, Croson spoke to her experience with collaboration and interdisciplinary research at a public forum on campus last month.

“I firmly believe that the way to do good interdisciplinary research is to have collaboration amongst strong disciplines,” Croson said. “You need to take people who are experts in their fields and induce them to work together in ways that create new insights.”

Amy Pittenger, chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee and co-chair of the search committee that chose Croson as a finalist, said the FCC is excited to work with Croson.  

“It’s the breadth of what she’s done and the kinds of roles she has played in multiple different disciplines that is really positive,” Pittenger said.

With degrees in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, Croson has held administrative positions at Michigan State and the University of Texas at Arlington. She has been a professor at various institutions since 1994.

Pittenger said because of the significant role the provost has and the decisions Croson will make, the hire directly impacts all aspects of students’ academic life.

Croson will have oversight of all levels of academics throughout the system, including promotion and tenure, research and academic programs, and faculty development. Gabel said in the email Croson will oversee all Twin Cities academic units and work to “advance greater impact for our students, state, and beyond.”

In the email, Gabel thanked Hanson for her help ensuring a smooth transition as Croson joins the University. Hanson originally announced her intent to retire over a year ago, before agreeing to stay on as the University transitioned to Gabel as president.

In a July interview, Hanson said she has considered returning to teaching, but is leaning toward pursuing work in her field of philosophy.

“This search process provided me an invaluable opportunity to learn so much more about our University,” Gabel said in the email. “As my first, and most significant hire to date, I’m confident Dr. Croson will help us advance from great to greater.”

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