Joseph Urgo, a senior fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, has been named UNC Asheville’s interim provost. Chancellor Anne Ponder announced Urgo’s appointment at a meeting of the university’s faculty on May 5. Urgo will fill a vacancy that will be created when Provost Jane Fernandes completes her tenure at the university and joins Guilford College as its next president later this summer.
Urgo, an ardent and articulate supporter of the liberal arts, served as president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland from 2010 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Hamilton College’s vice president for Academic Affairs, and also served as dean of the faculty and professor of English. His long career also has included faculty positions at the University of Mississippi, Bryant College, Vanderbilt University and Syracuse University.
“Dr. Urgo’s academic credentials are impressive.” said Chancellor Ponder. “Because of his extensive background in academic administration, his leadership abilities and his national credibility, I am so pleased that someone of his caliber is available to work with us during this time of transition.”
Urgo has gotten to know UNC Asheville this academic year, teaching a literature class, and participating in a faculty “Learning Circle” on “Defending the Liberal Arts.” He also has worked with the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), which is headquartered at UNC Asheville, and assisted in the planning of a civic learning/civic engagement initiative.
Urgo will receive advice and assistance from Bruce Larson, professor of economics, on UNC Asheville’s customs and processes. Larson also will coordinate work related to the university’s reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
UNC Asheville is engaged in a national search for its next chancellor; Ponder has announced that she will retire at the end of July. The next chancellor, with help and advice from the campus community, will decide the timing and process for hiring the next permanent provost.