What Exactly Is A Provost?

Paul LangIf you don’t know what a provost is, you shouldn’t feel bad. With the exception of people who work for a university, the term provost may be a bit of a mystery. If you check the origins of the word “provost”, you’ll find that the original definition was “keeper of a prison” – certainly not what a university provost is today!

The modern university provost is the university’s chief academic officer and is responsible to the president for the creation and implementation of the academic priorities for the university and for the allocation of resources that will support those priorities. The provost works closely with the academic deans, department heads, student services professionals, faculty and staff to provide the highest possible quality of educational programs, both within and outside the classroom, for undergraduate and graduate students. An important part of the provost’s job is also to insure that we recruit, retain, encourage and support an outstanding and diverse faculty; each of whom will make positive contributions to the university and to their discipline in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.

At NMU, the units that report to the provost include the colleges of arts and sciences, professional studies and business as well as graduate and continuing education, academic information services/library, student services and enrollment, international programs, institutional research, the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center and broadcasting and audio-visual services.

So now you know! Being a provost is a pretty big job, but it is also an interesting and fulfilling one. We’re glad you’re interested and encourage you to learn more about the Office of the Provost and the Academic Affairs Division of the university by exploring these pages.

Paul Lang
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs