x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'Gifted scholar' confirmed as new provost

A new provost has been appointed at Zayed University (ZU) following the sudden departure of Dr Lois Muir in June.

A new provost has been appointed at Zayed University (ZU) following the sudden departure of Dr Lois Muir in June. Dr Daniel Johnson, former president of the University of Toledo, is due to begin work next month. In an email to staff, ZU's vice president, Dr Sulaiman al Jassim, described Dr Johnson as "a gifted scholar, educator and academic leader".

His appointment comes soon after ZU secured accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, making it the first federal university to be accredited by the US body. In a statement, Dr Johnson said he was "deeply gratified" to have been chosen for the job. "Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the most creative and dynamic cities in the world in a country that is strategically located between the East and the West," he said. "I'm excited by the challenging mission of the university and the opportunity to help bring the best in US higher education to this important region of the world."

In his new post, Dr Johnson will oversee the university's operations, academic programmes and campuses. There are several challenges ahead for ZU. They include the integration of male undergraduate students at its main campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and a planned move to a new campus in the capital. ZU also recently accepted a bumper intake of new students after the Government increased its funding to allow all qualified Emiratis to attend federal universities.

The change from previous years, when many who met academic criteria were rejected for lack of space, could put pressure on teaching resources. The university was created in 1998 for female Emiratis, although a small specialist campus for males has since opened in Sweihan. Dr Muir was removed from her post abruptly when she said she wished to leave at the end of the autumn term, which lasts until January, and return to the University of Montana.

Dr Jassim announced that Dr Muir would leave immediately "in the best interests of the university" and to allow for a replacement to be found. An interim provost was appointed while the university searched for a permanent appointee. Dr Johnson's appointment resulted from "a highly competitive search that attracted an outstanding pool of candidates", Dr Jassim told staff, adding that the new provost brought "a wealth of academic and administrative experience".

Dr Johnson was president emeritus and a distinguished university professor of public policy and economic development at the University of Toledo, where he was president from 2001 to 2006. Earlier he served as provost at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and dean of the School of Community Service at the University of North Texas. Dr Johnson has bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas Christian University and a PhD from the University of Missouri.

Married with two children, Dr Johnson is the co-author of a book published in 1981 about black migration in America. He has edited two other books and written chapters for several more. dbardsley@thenational.ae