Amy Dittmar, a distinguished scholar with an extensive background in economics, finance and university administration, has been named the new provost of Rice University.
Dittmar currently serves as senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs and professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan. Her appointment as Rice’s provost will place her in one of the university’s most crucial leadership posts. Along with the deans, vice provosts and vice presidents, the provost’s office supports excellence in all of the university’s academic, research, scholarly and creative activities.
Dittmar will assume the position vacated by Provost Reginald DesRoches, who will become Rice’s eighth president on July 1.
“Amy has a deep understanding of nearly every corner of a university and shares Rice’s values of excellence and opportunity,” DesRoches said. “Rice will benefit from Amy’s deep leadership experience, distinguished academic record and strategic mindset. As I move out of the provost’s office and into the president’s office, I look forward to working with her to continue Rice’s long legacy of success and elevate the university’s stature both nationally and around the globe.”
“I am thrilled and incredibly honored to join Rice as its next provost,” Dittmar said. “I have been impressed by Rice’s exceptional reputation and by the deep commitment of everyone I have met to undergraduate and graduate education and the importance of scholarship across the academy. I look forward to working with incoming President DesRoches to carry out his vision at this exciting time for Rice University.”
Dittmar has held a series of top-level administrative roles at the University of Michigan, which has more than 50,000 students, an annual budget of $11 billion and is consistently ranked among the top three public universities in the nation. In 2019, she served as acting provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, the chief academic and budgetary officer with direct reporting relationships for 19 schools and colleges as well as other units and key staff. Since 2020, she has served as senior vice provost, a position in which she has overseen policy decisions and implemented a wide range of strategic, academic and budgetary areas of the university. Dittmar has been responsible for setting budgetary policy and allocating resources, including the university’s general fund budget, totaling $2.6 billion, and major capital projects. From 2016 to 2020, she served as the vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs.
During her tenure in the provost’s office, Dittmar was instrumental in establishing the Go Blue Guarantee in 2017, one of the first guarantees of free tuition for lower-income students at a public institution. She also planned and led the development of a new classroom building centered around enhancing engaged learning, and she was one of the leaders of a shift to a more holistic approach in the university’s support for student mental health and well-being. She also played a key role in the university’s decision-making process during the COVID-19 pandemic, including serving as the academic representative on the COVID health response committee and maintaining a balanced budget that prioritized people’s needs throughout the crisis.
Dittmar also served as the University of Michigan Ross School of Business’ senior associate dean for graduate programs. In that role, she was primarily responsible for all graduate programs, the office of student life and finalizing the school’s diversity strategic plan. She also directed curriculum review, admissions, strategic planning and budgets for graduate programs, including full-time and part-time MBA, global MBA, executive MBA, master’s of management, master’s of accounting and master’s of supply chain management.
Dittmar’s appointment comes after a nationwide search launched in January and conducted by Isaacson, Miller, one of the country’s leading executive search firms. At Rice, the effort was spearheaded by an 11-member committee of faculty, staff and trustees led by Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice engineering professor and co-director of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health .
“Everyone on the search committee was impressed with Dr. Dittmar’s vision to lead the growth of Rice’s faculty and her commitment to foster a culture of innovation that increases both student success and research impact,” Richards-Kortum said. “Rice will benefit from her deep experience to guide and implement successful strategies at the University of Michigan.”
Dittmar held a number of other administrative and academic roles in Michigan, including as a board member and secretary of the Michigan Health Corp., chair of a behavioral science research initiative task force, co-chair of the Student Mental Health and Well-being Implementation committee, member of the CFO search committee and board member of the Michigan Mobility Transportation Center.
Former colleagues applauded Dittmar’s appointment.
“Amy Dittmar is an outstanding choice to assume the role of provost at Rice University,” said Andrew Martin, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis and former dean of the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. “She is not only a distinguished scholar and educator, but also a thoughtful and strategic thinker who is deeply committed to the mission of higher education. She inspires confidence in those around her and motivates everyone in her orbit to perform at a higher level. I have no doubt Rice will benefit greatly from her wisdom, collegiality and vision for the future.”
“I was delighted to learn the news of Dr. Amy Dittmar’s appointment as the next provost of Rice University,” said Cornell University President Martha Pollack, a former provost of the University of Michigan. “Dr. Dittmar was a pleasure to work with throughout our time at Michigan, and her distinguished record of academic leadership, her strategic mindset and her thoughtful approach to opportunities and challenges make her the ideal choice for Rice. I know she will contribute greatly to the Rice community in the years to come.”
Dittmar earned her bachelor’s degree in finance and business economics from Indiana University and Ph.D. in finance from the University of North Carolina. She is a scholar of corporate finance, governance and gender economics. Her research centers around studying the complex interactions between ownership, governance, individual preferences and financial structure in public and private organizations to understand the role of incentives in decision-making and performance.
She served as an associate editor at the Journal of Financial Economics, one of the top journals in the field, and a councilor for the Society for Financial Studies, the organization that oversees three top finance journals including the Review of Financial Studies. She also served on selection committees and provided service to numerous journals and academic associations in finance, economics and accounting.
Dittmar was appointed the prestigious Michael R. and Mary Kay Hallman Fellow at Michigan from 2012-2015. She was a finalist for the Brattle Prize, awarded for the best paper in corporate finance in Journal of Finance 2007, won the Law and Economics Consulting Group Award for Best Paper in Corporate Finance at the 2007 European Finance Association Conference and won Best Paper at the 2001 Financial Management Association European Conference. She has published numerous papers in top journals and her work has been cited more than 10,000 times.
Before her career at the University of Michigan, Dittmar was an assistant professor at Indiana University and a financial analyst and real estate officer at First Chicago Corp. (now part of JPMorgan Chase).
Dittmar will be joined at Rice by her husband of 28 years, Robert “Bob” Dittmar, who will be a professor of finance at the Jones Graduate School of Business. He is an expert in empirical and theoretical asset pricing with a focus on the determination of the term structure of interest rates and the cross-section of equity returns. In his current role as a professor at the University of Michigan, he is the founder and co-director of the Ross FinTech Initiative and the director of the Tozzi Finance Institute, which operates a trading floor where he oversees the student-led investment fund.
Dittmar’s daughter Abby, 24, is earning her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at Florida State University, while her son Graham, 21, is studying at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Dittmar will assume her position at Rice on Aug. 1.