Biosciences effort includes new vice provost, 30 faculty positions


A new campus-level biological sciences position will be created to lead the effort to make the University of Michigan “a powerhouse in the biosciences and a global leader in discovery and societal impact,” President Mark Schlissel said Friday.

The vice provost for biological sciences will be filled by a senior bioscientist with broad creative vision and extensive leadership experience, Schlissel said. The person will chair a coordinating committee consisting of leaders from the many units that do life science and related research.

Thirty new faculty positions will be added and $150 million will be allocated by the new vice provost and the coordinating committee with the goal of catalyzing the development of research and educational programs that tap into U-M’s great breadth, Schlissel said.

The president made the announcements during his annual Leadership Breakfast at the Michigan Union.

Creating better campus-level coordination across the biosciences was a main thrust in the final report last month from a faculty life sciences panel convened by Schlissel. The President’s Advisory Panel on the Biosciences said U-M should strive to become a magnet for the best biosciences faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students in the world.

Achieving that goal will require both cultural and structural changes that “transform the biosciences ecosystem at U-M,” the group concluded.

The panel was chaired by Provost Martha Pollack and included faculty members across a range of disciplines from biology, chemistry and psychology to the neurosciences, math and biomedical engineering.

Since the final report was issued, Schlissel and Pollack have been discussing the panel’s observations and recommendations with deans and others on campus.

“It is clear that we are in concurrence on many points raised in the report, and we will now begin to implement various aspects of those recommendations,” Schlissel said.

The new vice provost for biological sciences will report directly to the provost, also will work closely with the president, and will serve as “the overall leader of one of our most critical academic priority areas,” Schlissel said. The candidate search will begin in the coming months.

The biosciences coordinating committee will serve as a forum for schools and colleges to discuss and coordinate their recruitment, space and infrastructure plans so they can strategically leverage one another’s efforts.

One of U-M’s great advantages in the biosciences is its world-class schools of medicine, dentistry, kinesiology, pharmacy, engineering, natural resources and environment, public health and nursing, in addition to an outstanding academic medical center, the Life Sciences Institute and large biological sciences departments in LSA, Schlissel said.

“Few, if any, other institutions can match our scale and breadth in this arena,” he said. “I believe the key to our future success and leadership is our potential to be more than the sum of our many excellent parts.

“If we can develop a way to invest and collaborate strategically across the broad expanse of disciplines, our potential for discovery, societal impact and outstanding bioscience education would be unmatched,” Schlissel said.



  1. Barry Sherman
    on October 30, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    What is the justification for 30 new positions? Or maybe new positions should only follow reductions that arise via consolidation. Infinite growth without improvements in efficiency only provides ammunition to those who do not support the Unuversity.

  2. Knut Hamsun
    on November 2, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Barry, the lack of efficiency is not in faculty, but in administration. Any move that improves the faculty to admin ratio is improving efficiency, almost by definition. For example, take a look here:

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