Sally Kornbluth, James B. Duke Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, will succeed Provost Peter Lange as the new provost.
Kornbluth has been a faculty member since 1994 and has served as vice dean for basic science at Duke Hospital since 2006. As vice dean, Kornbluth oversees the biomedical graduate programs in the School of Medicine and implements programs to support research in the science department. She will be the first female provost at Duke.
"I've been at Duke for 20 years and I love Duke," Kornbluth said. "I've really enjoyed working with faculty, students and staff to develop new programs to improve the overall quality of life in the School of Medicine, and being given the greater opportunity to do this on larger scale across the campus is really exciting."
The Board of Trustees appointed Kornbluth at their meeting Saturday. Vice President and University Secretary Richard Riddell said the selection committee—formed by Brodhead to select the new provost—brought forward four candidates. Brodhead then interviewed each of the four candidates, discussed his thoughts with the Executive Committee and brought forward an endorsement to the Board.
Kornbluth said she would to talk to all of Duke's schools to understand the faculties' priorities before crafting any new plans. She added that she plans on working with Lange to become familiar with all the aspects of Duke Kunshan University.
"I think it is important to have a place in Asia, and to think about how our presence in Kunshan will help the Duke mothership," Kornbluth said.
In terms of moving forward with online education, Kornbluth said she plans on getting "serious faculty input" by those who would be providing the content for online courses.
"That is not something I would force top down," Kornbluth said regarding online education.
Kornbluth added that it is important to consider the "distinctive Duke flavor" the University can add to online courses.
"Duke as an institution is well known for its strong interdisciplinary education, and it's important to think about how we would put a unique Duke stamp on online educational opportunities," she said.
Lange praised the appointment, noting that he has been impressed with Kornbluth in the past.
"I consider her a highly valuable colleague," Lange said. "She's also a superb researcher and has a keen intellect."
Kornbluth researches cell proliferation and programmed cell death, which provides a greater understanding for cancer and degenerative disorders.
Kornbluth was named vice provost of academic affairs Sept. 29, 2011, but decided not to take the position in order to continue her biomedical research.
“Basic research issues—that’s where my heart is,” Kornbluth said in a 2011 interview with The Chronicle. “I started to get more deeply involved in the provost’s office. Though I really feel that [Lange] and his team are fabulous, the issues aren’t as exciting to me as the research issues.”
Dr. Victor Dzau, president and CEO of the Duke University Health System and chancellor of health affairs, said Kornbluth's decision to turn down the vice provost of academic affairs position in 2011 shows that Kornbluth is "adaptive and decisive." He noted that the vice provost position was not as comprehensive of a position as vice dean so she chose to remain in her original role.
"Now that this is a bigger job she looks at it very differently," Dzau said in an interview referring to the provost position. "I also think this reflects on the University very well just because she said no they didn’t hold it against her."
Dzau said he is thrilled Kornbluth is becoming provost because she can analyze issues and always come up with a solution.
"I endorsed her when President Brodhead was thinking about her," Dzau said. "I think she is one of the most effective leaders I've ever met. She gets the job done."
Brodhead also commended Kornbluth's problem-solving skills.
"She has a long history where she listens to people, hears their diagnosis of what they need and then thinks of a solution that benefits many people," Dzau said. "Then people afterwards like her solution better than they like their own."
Kornbluth said she prefers to spend time listening to the perspectives of all individuals rather than coming to a snap judgement.
Dzau added that Kornbluth's thorough understanding of the health system will be an asset when she serves as provost.
"I would say that when the economy is tough and funding is tough it is important we have someone who also understands the medical side because we are part of a team and support the university in a big way," Dzau said.
Dzau will be stepping down from his position at DUHS June 30. Dzau said he is confident Brodhead and Nancy Andrews, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will be able to fill his and Kornbluth's positions, respectively, in a timely fashion.
Kornbluth will be the first provost to come from a medical field since Keith Brodie, who took the role in 1982 and had a background in psychiatry. Lange noted, however, that a provost's individual skills tend to matter more than his or her academic background.
"It's your qualities as a person, as a scholar, as a faculty member, as a learner that really have the biggest impact on what you do in the job," Lange said.
Kornbluth also has oversight of the Institutional BioSafety Committee—a part of the National Institutes of Health office of science policy that provides institutional oversight of recombinant DNA. She was named to the Institute of Medicine—a nonprofit organization that provides advice to decision makers and the public—Oct. 2013. Kornbluth is also a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Kornbluth has won two awards for her teaching abilities. In 2012, Kornbluth received the Basic Science Research Mentoring Award from the School of Medicine, and in 2013 she received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Duke Medical Alumni Association. Additionally, she has mentored 25 doctoral candidates.
Brodhead formed a selection committee to select the new provost after Lange announced in August that he was stepping down. The committee was chaired by George Truskey, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson professor of biomedical engineering and senior associate dean for research in the Pratt School.
Among the committee’s other members were faculty members, students, trustees and an administrator: Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns professor of Bible and practical theology at the Divinity School; Katherine Franz, associate professor of chemistry; Michael Platt, director of the Institute for Brain Science and of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience; Richard Schmalbeck, the Simpson Thacher and Bartlett professor of law; sociology professor Lynn Smith-Lovin; Maurice Wallace, associate professor of English and African and African American Studies; senior Stefani Jones, president of Duke Student Government; Amol Yadav, president of Duke Graduate and Professional Student Council; trustees Frank Emory and Betsy Holden; and Benjamin Reese, vice president of the Office for Institutional Equity.
Lange is the longest-serving provost in Duke history, stepping down after 15 years of service in June. As provost, Lange has worked on two capital campaigns—Duke Forward, the University's current campaign, and Campaign for Duke. Lange appointed all of the University's current deans as well as two-thirds of current faculty members. He was also a driving force behind Duke Kunshan University.
Emma Baccellieri contributed reporting.