University of Wisconsin Provost Peter Spear announced plans Monday to retire at the end of the 2005 fall semester.
Spear has been the UW provost since 2001 and on the UW faculty since 1976, except for five years he spent at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Spear said he hopes to continue working on diversity and climate issues at UW before his December retirement. Specifically, Spear said he will work on undergraduate programs for recruiting and retaining minority students and also hiring and retaining minority faculty members.
“Diversity is an extremely important current problem and challenge for the university,” Spear said, adding he intends to focus on it the in remainder of his time as provost and it is “important for others that follow.”
Department chair in Agricultural and Life Sciences Murray Clayton noted Spear’s creation of a the position of associate vice chancellor for diversity and climate, which Clayton said Spear has put a large effort into building and maintaining.
Spear said he also hopes efforts will continue to increase the amount of women in fields of science and engineering.
Spear also wants to see the continuation of several building projects on campus. He named the East Campus Humanities and Art District as an important asset to the university. The project will be located at the lower end of State Street and includes plans to consolidate arts and humanities on campus and add classroom space. In addition, renovations to the Elvehjem Museum of Art will be done and three new dorms will be built, which will replace the Ogg Hall towers.
Spear also said he supports the continuation of the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery. The institute is a $375 million project that will serve as an interdisciplinary research center that will combine biology, bioinformatics, computer science, engineering, nanotechnology and other fields in one setting.
According to Spear, UW is “truly a top tier university,” but to remain that way the university and the state Legislature must collaborate to maintain its reputation in the future.
“[The] biggest challenge for the university is to maintain its excellence in the face of declining state support,” Spear said.
Director of the Institute for Cross-College Biology Education Tom Sharkey, who has worked closely with Spear in the past, said Spear has done a lot to provide more opportunities for students. In addition, Sharkey said Spear has done a variety of things to improve interdisciplinary biology teaching.
“What he has going right now are projects that should continue,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey added that Spear is committed to UW.
Spear said his retirement results from a desire to stop working at an age that would allow him to be healthy enough to enjoy his free time. His plans include writing a book and continuing to be active and travel.
Although Spear and his wife plan to move to Tucson, Ariz., after his retirement, he will continue to visit Madison.
“[I have] really deep connections to the city and the university,” Spear said.