Seymour appointed provost

Charlena Seymour was appointed May 20 as provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. Chancellor John V. Lombardi made the announcement.

Seymour has served as interim provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs since 2001.

Lombardi said, “It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Dr. Charlena Seymour as provost of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The search committee, under the able direction of Dean Cleve Willis, identified a number of excellent candidates, and the campus had the opportunity to interview the finalists. These individuals all had strong credentials and the candidates recommended to me by the search committee clearly impressed the various constituencies on campus with their vision, energy, and qualifications.”

“After widespread consultation that included the search committee, the deans, and others on campus, it became clear to me that Dr. Seymour has the strongest complement of transformational leadership experience, academic background, and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of this campus. I have offered the provost position to Dr. Seymour, and I am pleased to announce that she has agreed to serve.”

“I am delighted to become a member of Chancellor Lombardi’s executive team,” says Seymour. “I welcome the opportunity to work with the chancellor, and the campus community as whole, to evaluate our opportunities and help design an academic plan of excellence for UMass Amherst. We plan to increase and build upon the strength of the faculty in pursuit of well-articulated goals in teaching and research.”

Cleve Willis, dean of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment and chair of the search committee, says while the candidate pool contained applicants of the highest caliber from universities around the nation, in the end Seymour rose to the top. “The committee saw in her a number of highly attractive attributes, including hard work, integrity, and strength. She is seen as an enabler rather than a micro-manager, and people who report to her appreciate the fact that she supports them strongly on tough decisions.”

Prior to becoming interim provost in 2001, Seymour was dean of the Graduate School from 1994 to 2001 and prior to that chaired the Department of Communication Disorders from 1984-92. She joined the University as an assistant professor in 1971, was an associate professor from 1978 to 1989, and has been a professor in Communication Disorders since then.

Seymour earned her master’s degree in 1967 and a Ph.D. in speech and hearing science at The Ohio State University in 1981. Seymour earned a bachelor’s in fine arts degree in theatre arts from Howard University in 1965. She grew up in Roxbury.

Lombardi noted that the Amherst campus has been engaged in a difficult transition period requiring adjustment to the changed economic circumstances that affect the Commonwealth''s commitment to public higher education. He says UMass Amherst has made much progress, but there is much that remains to be done. “Now that we have concluded this search, we can move from the immediate resolution of crisis issues to a consideration of longer-range plans that can support our aspirations for our research,
teaching, and other programs.”