Martha E. Pollack, who has served since 2010 as the vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, was selected Jan. 30 by President Mary Sue Coleman as the university’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Pollack’s two-year appointment will be effective May 6, pending approval by the Board of Regents at its Feb. 21 meeting. Pollack succeeds Phil Hanlon, who is stepping down to become president of Dartmouth College.
“Martha Pollack is an effective leader who understands how to maintain world-class academics through a disciplined approach to finances. She has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities currently facing higher education,” Coleman said. “Her appointment as provost reflects a deep knowledge of this institution that is grounded in her work as a faculty member, department chair and dean.”
The provost is both the chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer. The provost is responsible for sustaining and enhancing the university’s academic excellence in teaching, research and creative endeavors. The provost oversees the activities of the university’s 19 schools and colleges as well as the many interdisciplinary institutes and centers.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the University of Michigan as provost,” Pollack said. “This remains one of the world’s premier institutions of higher education and I am both humbled and honored to be a part of an incredibly dedicated leadership team.”
In her role as vice provost, Pollack serves as the provost’s senior staff member in overseeing the strategic assessment process for the schools and colleges, as well as setting budgetary policy and allocating resources, including the university’s general fund budget. She spearheaded the university’s effort to offer massive open online courses through the Coursera platform.
She also works with the provost, deans and directors on budgeting, space planning and the development and support of academic programs and initiatives. Pollack taught a one-credit class last fall with Hanlon designed to help students better understand the U-M budgeting process and the finances of higher education.
Prior to becoming vice provost, Pollack served as dean of the School of Information and before that as associate chair for Computer Science and Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She has been on the U-M faculty since 2000, having previously been a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the technical staff at SRI International.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Pollack’s research has been in the area of artificial intelligence.
She has published widely on topics including automated planning, natural-language processing, temporal reasoning and constraint satisfaction. A particular focus of her work has been the design of intelligent technology to assist people with cognitive impairment.
In addition to receiving a number of awards for her research, she has been recognized for her professional service. She was honored with the Sarah Goddard Power Award in recognition of her efforts to increase the representation of and climate for women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering.
She has served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, as president of AAAI, as a member of the advisory committee for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division, and a member of the board of directors of the Computing Research Association.
Pollack received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, completing a self-designed interdisciplinary major in linguistics. She earned her Master of Science and Engineering and doctoral degrees in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.
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