UMass Names Newman as Next Provost

Katherine Newman
Monday, April 28, 2014

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has named nationally recognized sociologist and administrator Katherine Newman of the Johns Hopkins University to be its next provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. Newman will replace James V. Staros who is resigning at the end of the academic year.

Newman is currently the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins. She previously served as the director of the Institute for International and Regional Studies and a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, and also taught at Harvard and Columbia. She holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “We are delighted that Katherine Newman will be bringing her vision, energy and extraordinary talents to the Commonwealth’s flagship campus. She is not only a highly respected researcher and author, but also a creative administrator who has achieved excellence in advancing undergraduate and graduate education as well as research endeavors.”

Newman, who earned her degrees in the University of California system, said she is a firm believer in public higher education. “Without it, I wouldn’t be in the chair I am now,” she said. “I greatly admire Chancellor Subbaswamy and was impressed by the extraordinary trust and respect he has engendered on campus. I look forward to working with him to build upon the excellence that already distinguishes the university.”

In her new position at UMass Amherst, Newman will be the university’s chief academic officer. She will provide leadership for education, research and scholarship, with responsibility for 10 schools and colleges. Also reporting to her will be a wide range of academic support units, including the libraries, undergraduate advising, admissions and financial aid, undergraduate research and international programs. She starts her new duties Aug. 1.

Newman joins UMass Amherst as it enjoys record success in attracting top-achieving students, conducting groundbreaking research and yielding the results of a $1 billion investment in new facilities that include the recently opened Commonwealth Honors College, the Life Science Laboratories and the Integrative Learning Center, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

Newman said she was impressed by the “many talented and devoted citizens of UMass” she met on campus, by the school’s social justice agenda, and by its role in the surrounding community.

A noted sociologist, Newman has written 12 books on the working poor, middle class economic insecurity and school violence. Her latest, released this week, is titled “After Freedom: The Rise of the Post-Apartheid Generation in Democratic South Africa.” Newman will be traveling to Cape Town this week for the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s historic election. She is also author of “The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents and the Private Toll of Global Competition,” and is working on another manuscript titled, “Learning to Labor in the 21st Century,” which focuses on the potential of apprenticeship education in the U.S. and Germany.

 “I am very devoted to scholarly work, to my role as a public intellectual and to working, as the UMass faculty do, to further the mission of research,” she said. “I don’t mind staying up at night and using vacations to continue this preoccupation while devoting the rest of my waking hours to leadership.”

Among her accomplishments at Johns Hopkins was the Academy at Johns Hopkins for retired faculty who are active in research, a new sabbatical system tied to undergraduate teaching, increased support for graduate students, and a new arts campus under development in a poor neighborhood in Baltimore.