This article was originally published on the UConn Today Web site on January 9, 2012.
To the University Community,
I am writing to let you know that Dr. Peter Nicholls, who has served as Provost and Executive Vice President at UConn with great distinction for the last six years, will be stepping down from that position on May 31, 2012. Fortunately, he will remain at UConn as a member of our faculty, returning to his research beginning next fall.
While I am happy for Peter and understand his desire to return to teaching following a long career in administration, it would be difficult not to feel a sense of loss at the departure of such an outstanding leader, colleague, and friend.
Peter came to UConn in 2005 from Colorado State University, where he served for three years as Provost and Academic Vice President. Prior to that, he served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University from 1991 to 2002, and was previously a professor of mathematics and associate dean at Northern Illinois University.
In his time at UConn, Peter played a pivotal role in bringing excellent academic leadership to the University, recruiting and appointing nearly all of the Storrs-based deans, as well as the vice provosts and several vice presidents. He was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of our academic plan, which has served us very well as a roadmap toward excellence over the last three years.
Peter led the University into membership of Universitas 21 – a prestigious international group of institutions – that enhances our global education goals. He has made internationalization a priority, and has successfully worked to increase the number of students studying abroad – a life-changing experience now available to many more of our students, thanks to Peter and his efforts.
Anyone who has worked closely with Peter knows that he maintains a reserved equanimity (and dry wit) as he carries out the work of what is a highly demanding and stressful position. Peter cares deeply for our students and our mission as a public higher education institution, and he has a great respect for our faculty and staff.
On behalf of this entire institution, I extend my most heartfelt thanks to him for his outstanding and lasting contributions to the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Mun Choi, Dean of the School of Engineering, has agreed to serve as interim Provost as we begin the process of conducting a national search for the position, which will start in the fall. Mun has excelled as dean, and I know that he will help ensure a smooth transition.
Many of you know Mun’s contributions to both UConn and the state of Connecticut. Mun joined us as Dean of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2008. He served previously as Department Head of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean for Research at Drexel University. He holds a doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University and was an NRC post-doctoral fellow at NIST from 1992 to 1993.
Mun’s current research effort is focused on advancing the understanding of sooting and radiation on droplet combustion and soot diagnostic techniques. These studies have improved the ability to accurately interpret non-intrusive diagnostic data and the calculation of radiative heat transfer from flames and fires. His NASA project on fire safety was performed aboard the International Space Station in 2009 and again in 2011.
In 2007, Mun was elected President of the International Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, and in 2011, he was appointed by Gov. Dannel Malloy to serve on the Board of Directors of the reconstituted Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA).
Please join me in supporting Dr. Choi in his new role, and in sending Peter and Trudy our very best wishes for the future; they have been superb leaders, beloved members of this community, and outstanding exemplars of university service and dedication.
University of Connecticut