Carson appointed vice provost for strategic partnerships

Dan Carson, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, has been appointed vice provost for strategic partnerships – a new position that will focus on Rice’s relationships outside the hedges.

“Many elements of our strategy over the next several years involve building deeper, broader and more effective collaborations with some of our partners in research and teaching,” President David Leebron and Provost George McLendon wrote in a memo to the Rice community Aug. 8. “We have asked Dan Carson to take on a new role overseeing and coordinating the efforts to deepen our relationship with the institutions of the Texas Medical Center, the Johnson Space Center and certain other key partners as vice provost for strategic partnerships.”

Dan Carson

Carson said he is very excited about this new opportunity.

“Over the years, Rice has made a number of agreements to establish important partnerships that we haven’t been able to follow up on fully,” Carson said. “Rice is a highly sought commodity, and with Houston experiencing a tremendous period of growth and opportunity, it makes sense to partner with Rice and for Rice to make partnerships. We need to make sure we see these relationships through and take full advantage of them.”

Carson said there are multiple opportunities with the world’s largest medical center across the street from Rice. “And NASA and Johnson Space Center (JSC) have become aggressive in thinking about how to reach out and become more involved in the community and in the application of technological developments,” he said, adding that the Rice Space Institute – one of his “pet projects” as dean – and the university can broaden their historic connections to NASA and JSC.

The “strategic partnerships” in Carson’s new title emphasizes that “Rice can’t be all things to all people,” he said. “We have to make good choices as to where we invest our resources, efforts and intellectual capital.”

He noted also that the title is deliberately open-ended. “It doesn’t point to any particular discipline,” he said. “We need to be open to opportunities for all of our schools and institutes. We have many unique capabilities that can be put to use in interesting, creative ways to bring the right groups of people together.”

In addition to the medical center and the space program, Carson said partnerships could involve government at many different levels, the energy industry, school districts, local museums, technology and various facets of the business world.

“This new role will allow me to serve Rice and have an impact on the Houston community,” Carson said. “I will be able to work full-time on things that I haven’t been able to focus on as intensely as they deserve because of the demands that have required my attention as dean.”

Carson, who became dean of natural sciences in 2009, has agreed to continue to serve as dean during the coming school year while a search is conducted for his successor. A search committee will be formed, and the goal is to have Carson’s successor in place by the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

“We look forward to Dan’s leadership in his new role and express our deep appreciation as he completes his service as dean this year,” Leebron and McLendon said.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Strategic Partnerships will eventually be housed in the BioScience Research Collaborative, where it can share resources with other senior-level administrative offices.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.