Dean of the College Announcement

From Teresa Amott:

Dear Knox Community,

On behalf of the Search Committee, I am delighted to announce that Dr. Garikai Campbell has accepted our offer to join the Knox community as provost and dean of the College. He joins Knox after serving as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse College for the last four years. From the Search Committee’s first consideration of the candidate pool, Kai Campbell stood out as one of the top candidates, with more than 20 years of experience at residential liberal arts colleges as a student, faculty member, and academic administrator. The Committee was particularly drawn to his experiences leading strategic planning and his dedication to strengthening diversity among academic communities. He will take up his new duties in June.

You will note that this appointment also brings with it the new title of provost, replacing the “vice president for academic affairs” title used at Knox in the past. The new title does not carry with it any change in duties, reporting lines, or the structure of the Division of Academic Affairs, but it better aligns the description of his role at Knox with his previous administrative experience.

Campbell received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Swarthmore, where he was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and an Academic All-American wrestler, and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Rutgers University. He returned to Swarthmore as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, followed by an appointment to the faculty. While at Swarthmore, Campbell held several leadership positions, including associate dean for academic affairs, acting dean of students, and associate vice president for strategic planning and special assistant to the president.

In 2013, Campbell was appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse, where he facilitated the first change to the general education program in nearly three decades, enhanced the culture of shared governance, and reshaped the academic leadership. He played an instrumental role in securing resources for academic programs and broader institutional needs, including a $2.5 million gift to support STEM programs; a $1.2M grant from the Gates Foundation to develop and evaluate innovative student success initiatives; and a $1.25M Lilly Endowment grant to strengthen career pathways for students through improved curricular and co-curricular programming, structured internship opportunities, and enhanced advising.

Campbell’s work in his field of mathematics has focused predominantly on exploring particular properties of elliptic curves and exploiting those properties to solve select problems in number theory. He is the recipient of many awards for his teaching and research, including the Minority Graduate Fellowship from the National Science Foundation; the Lindback Minority Junior Faculty Grant; the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship; and the Henry Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America.

He is also recognized for his innovative work to shape programs designed to engage and retain students underrepresented in STEM disciplines. In particular, he has worked with the Professional Development Program at the University of California, Berkeley to boost enrollment of African American, Latinx, and Native American students in graduate mathematics programs; helped design and administer alternative assessments for the Vanguard Scholarship Program of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME); and taught and consulted for the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Program to strengthen women’s success in graduate mathematics programs. In addition, he has served on the advisory boards for the Math is Power and Figure This! Campaigns, promoting math and science literacy to elementary and middle school-aged children and their parents. He is currently a Scholar in Residence at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts in the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he is investigating, writing, and serving as a thought partner on topics at the intersection of technology, identity, art, and higher education.

I want to take this final opportunity to highlight the thoughtful work over the past five months by the Search Committee and the search consultants from Storbeck, Pimentel, all of whom worked tirelessly and diligently on our behalf. Thanks, again, to Anne Ehrlich, vice president for student development, and Chuck Schulz, professor of physics, who co-chaired the Committee, and to committee members Sam Arrez ’18, student representative; Nancy Eberhardt, professor of anthropology and chair of anthropology and sociology; Gina Franco, associate professor of English; Andy Hertel, assistant professor of psychology; Brandon Polite, associate professor of philosophy; Laura Rosene ’90, trustee and chair of the Academic Affairs Committee; and Nate Williams, assistant professor of educational studies.

From its first meeting in late August through two full days at O’Hare Airport interviewing semi-finalists and its final meetings with me to present its recommendations, the Committee has shown remarkable dedication and collegiality in representing Knox’s special qualities and core values to the candidates. We would not have been able to attract Kai to the campus without the embodiment of humor, wisdom, and critical thinking in this committee, and I am very grateful to them all.

I look forward to welcoming Kai to the Knox community later this spring and to his leadership as we continue to navigate the opportunities and challenges facing higher education today.