McLendon to complete his role as provost in 2015

George McLendon will step down as Rice’s Howard R. Hughes Provost when he completes his five-year term in June 2015.

George McLendon

In a March 11 letter announcing the provost’s plans to the Rice community, President David Leebron cited McLendon’s “desire to contribute in a more focused way to the priority we have set to creating a stronger environment for entrepreneurial activity, and in particular bringing the research of our faculty and students into sustainable application and success.” Leebron said he has “enthusiastically endorsed that goal” and asked McLendon to assume a leadership role in that area in 2015 while also working over the next year to build additional foundations for that effort.

“George has already accomplished a remarkable amount in just over three-and-a-half years,” Leebron said. “This includes recruitment of extraordinary faculty, launching and funding an important initiative in energy and the environment, establishing a leadership position in quantitative biology, securing new faculty and building programs for the BioScience Research Collaborative, overseeing a renaissance of Rice undergraduate education and in particular the launching of the program in writing and communication, developing important international relationships in Brazil and China, supporting student entrepreneurial endeavors and empowering our leading efforts in digital education.”

“I am very grateful for the vision and energy George has brought and continues to bring to his job as provost. George has made a very substantial contribution to both raising our ambitions and raising our standards,” Leebron said. “For the most part, however, George will continue over the substantial remainder of his term to build out our strategic priorities and to help schools and departments retain and recruit the very best faculty.”

In a letter to the faculty, McLendon said his return to a more fully engaged teaching and research practice is “the best job in the university!” He said Rice faculty, staff and students are “extraordinary and generous partners” and expressed appreciation for their help with carrying out the three initiatives that became known as the “provost’s initiatives” in energy, bioscience and international strategies.

“There remains one area where our ambitions are under-realized: leadership and entrepreneurship,” McLendon said. “These are areas so close to my own activity and teaching that it has been hard for me as provost to fully participate without the perception of conflict. With our initial agenda largely complete, I feel I can best serve Rice now by devoting my time to leadership and entrepreneurship, which is best done as an individual faculty member.”

Leebron said the significant advance notice of McLendon’s intentions will allow him to “follow a slightly different path” to finding Rice’s next provost. Leebron will appoint a committee of faculty broadly representative of Rice’s schools to engage in conversations with faculty across the university regarding their priorities and goals in choosing a new provost.

“I will use that feedback to define the structure and goals of our search, and then appoint a smaller and more focused committee to carry out that mandate,” Leebron said. “Because the first part of this process will involve speaking with many members of our faculty, I will also ask this initial committee to identify possible internal candidates for provost who might already enjoy significant support.”


About B.J. Almond

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