UW-Madison named nationally recognized neuroscientist Peter Spear as the school’s new provost Friday.
Spear has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder since 1996.
He worked at UW for 20 years as a professor of psychology, as well as Department of Psychology chair from 1990-94 and associate dean for the social sciences in the College of Letters and Science from 1994-96.
“We had a terrific pool of candidates,” UW Chancellor John Wiley said. “All four finalists were very strong, but Peter’s experience makes him the right fit for this campus at this time.”
In addition to his administrative experience, Spear has written more than 90 publications, including a textbook. His research focuses on how brain mechanisms of vision change during development, aging and while recovering from brain damage.
Spear said he is excited to be returning to UW.
“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students at UW-Madison,” Spear said. “In addition, it has a wonderful administrative team. I have worked with Chancellor Wiley in the past and look forward to doing so again.”
Spear will take over for interim Provost Gary Sandefur, a sociology professor. Sandefur has served in the position since Jan. 1, when then-provost Wiley became chancellor.
The provost serves as the university’s chief operating officer and deputy to the chancellor in overall academic and administrative management.
“Without question, [UW] is one of the top public research universities in the country,” Spear said. “This is a really wonderful opportunity to come back and work to make it even better.”
The provost’s many responsibilities include academic program planning involving 12 schools and colleges, faculty and staff development, diversity initiatives, as well as outreach and extension programming.
Spear plans to begin his duties Oct. 1. His salary will be $220,000 –contingent upon approval by the UW System Board of Regents and passage of the state budget.
Other finalists for the provost position were Ellen Wartella, dean of the College of Communication and professor in the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the University of Texas-Austin, and two UW faculty members, Virginia Sapiro, a professor of political science and women’s studies, and Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, associate dean for social sciences in the College of Letters and Science and professor of communication arts.