Lee assumes provost position

Dr. David Lee

Andrew Henderson

On Monday, Aug. 24, David Lee, former dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters,  assumed the position of provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. 

Lee replaced Gordon Emslie, who stepped down from his position as provost to return to teaching. Emslie leaves the position with five years, four new terminal degree programs and one reaffirmation of the university’s accreditation  under his belt. 

“It has been an intensely rewarding part of my career,” Emslie said in a press release. “Despite the numerous fiscal challenges of the past few years, the Division of Academic Affairs is in an excellent position from which to move forward in a number of areas, and in particular to fulfill the goals enunciated in the six-year Action Plan.”

President Gary Ransdell announced Emslie’s decision in an email. After a brief sabbatical, Emslie will begin teaching in January in the physics and astronomy department of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering.

Tony Glisson, the human resources director, said Emslie’s salary as provost was $231,468. Ransdell said Emslie’s new salary, once he assumes his full professor duties in January, will total $208, 321. His new salary is based upon a formula that is nine-tenths of Emslie’s salary.

Lee previously applied for the provost position. Ransdell said Lee went through a full faculty search process for the provost position five years ago and was named one of two finalists for the position before it was awarded to Emslie.

 “It seemed to be a logical, smooth decision to appoint Dr. Lee,” Ransdell said.

Lee came to WKU in 1975 as a history professor, served as the associate dean of Potter College for six years and served as Potter College’s dean for the last 23 years. Now, Lee will hold the position as provost for two years, said Ransdell. 

The search for Lee’s successor as provost will begin next summer, and a new provost will be hired in 2017. Specific details surrounding Lee’s new role as provost are unclear since he only accepted the position Aug.17. 

Lee said he enjoyed working with Emslie and hopes to continue the successes Emslie created.

“He (Emslie) is an outstanding provost, just a tremendous academic administrator and I’ve learned a whole lot from working with him over the last five years,” Lee said.

Over the next two years, Lee said maintaining quality education and supporting faculty will be important aspects in his job as provost. 

Lee said his departure from Potter College is “bittersweet,” but he looks forward to his assuming the provost position.

“Potter College is a very exciting place to be … and I really love the dynamic of the college,” he said. “I love the creative dimension of it. I love the diversity of it, but these kinds of transitions are inevitable … but I certainly savor all of the time I’ve spent at this college.”

In an email sent to faculty and staff, Lee announced his successor as dean. Larry Snyder will serve as the interim dean of Potter College. Snyder was formerly the associate dean of Potter College and has worked in the dean’s office for 12 years. Snyder will also serve as the interim provost for research and creative activity until his successor is named.

“I’m very honored and humbled by this opportunity,” Snyder said. 

Snyder’s appointment as interim dean will be for one year, and the university will begin the search for a permanent dean sometime this academic year, Snyder said. 

Snyder’s new responsibilities involve anything which runs through the dean’s office such as student concerns, recruitment and retention of faculty, and promoting research by both faculty and students. He said Potter College is in good shape, but going into the position, he also has his share of concerns. 

“We need to work through the current budget situation in a way that continues to make this an environment good for faculty and students,” he said. 

The Herald has reached out to Emslie for further comment, but Emslie has yet to respond.