After an extensive national search that yielded a deep pool of highly qualified candidates, Bucknell University President John Bravman has announced that Wendy Sternberg, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Occidental College since July 2017, will be Bucknell's next provost.
Sternberg's academic leadership for nearly seven years in her current position, coupled with her experience as the dean of academic departments and programs for four years (2013-17) at Union College, her alma mater; and as associate provost for four years (2008-12) at Haverford College, were among the factors that impressed the Bucknell students, faculty and staff who participated in the search process.
"The position of provost is a critically important appointment for Bucknell's future," Bravman says. "In an extremely competitive field of candidates, Wendy's combination of administrative experience and deep commitment to the liberal arts distinguished her as ideally equipped to guide our academic program and ensure its continued success. She is regarded as an outstanding leader and collaborator who understands the challenges facing higher education, and she is fully prepared to assume the role of provost at Bucknell University."
Recurring themes that have featured prominently in Sternberg's administrative career include her support for interdisciplinary teaching and learning; process-oriented and data-informed decision making driven by equity and fairness; and a commitment to the creation of inclusive campus communities that honor, value and respect all individuals.
"I'm delighted to be joining the Bucknell community, an institution I have long admired for its commitment to the liberal arts in all of its forms, and its emphasis on preparing students for lives and careers of meaning and purpose," Sternberg says. "I look forward to working with Bucknell's faculty, students and staff in ushering in the University's next chapter."
Improving Academic Outcomes
During her tenure at Occidental, Sternberg has been responsible for reorganizing the academic administration to improve coherence and effectiveness as well as forging new collaborations with the student affairs division in support of student success and thriving. She also has led an effort to define academic priorities for the college's recently concluded comprehensive campaign, which met its $250 million goal.
Her track record of securing grants for her own research has translated into success on three Mellon Foundation institutional grants at Occidental — one to support the integration of arts and technology, one to fund a community-engaged arts initiative, and a recent grant designed to help the college attract, retain and support a more diverse faculty.
Sternberg was also responsible for shepherding the Occidental academic program through the COVID-19 pandemic, including a year and a half of remote instruction and the transition back to in-person learning and residential education.
At Union, she directly oversaw the college's 21 academic departments and 14 interdisciplinary studies programs and was responsible for development, support and mentoring at all stages of the faculty career cycle. She also led the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology review for four programs, and co-led planning on a $100 million science and engineering facility renovation/building project.
As associate provost at Haverford, Sternberg's responsibilities included managing all non-tenure track appointments, overseeing college-wide assessment and serving as affirmative action officer for faculty searches. She taught for 18 years on the faculty of Haverford's psychology department, contributing introductory and advanced courses in biological psychology, pain, stress, statistics and research methods.
Sternberg earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Union (1990), and both a master's degree (1992) and Ph.D. (1994) in psychology from UCLA, where she also was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences. Her research program on the psychobiological underpinnings of pain served as a training ground for hundreds of undergraduate students and contributed important conceptual findings to the literature.
Sternberg's anticipated start date is July 1. Interim Provost and Co-Acting President Margot Vigeant will continue in the role until then. Details of her role in the transition are being finalized.