OU President Joseph Harroz announced the appointment of André-Denis Wright as senior vice president and provost of the Norman campus Thursday.
Pending OU Board of Regents’ approval, Wright will start in the job July 1, according to the email. The next regents’ meeting is slated for May 17-18.
If approved, Wright will replace former Provost and Senior Vice President Kyle Harper, who resigned from the position in June 2020, four months after a three-day long sit-in in which students called for his resignation, among other demands. Jill Irvine was appointed as interim following his resignation, and has served in the position throughout the national search for Harper’s replacement.
Wright currently serves as dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University, where he’s worked since June 2018. Wright has served in the leadership of 15 schools and departments in the natural and human sciences, including more than 3,100 students, about 1,250 faculty and staff across almost 50 locations, a $196 million budget, a tribal office, and four research and extension centers across Washington.
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wright earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Mary’s, and a master’s degree and doctorate in zoology from the University of Guelph. He’s published over 110 peer-reviewed papers, contributed 18 book chapters and lectured in 10 countries, according to the email.
According to the email, Wright’s academic career started in Perth, Australia, where he worked for the country’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, for over a decade. He began as a post-doctoral fellow and climbed the ranks, ultimately serving as principal research scientist while also training graduate students at Murdoch University and the University of Queensland.
Wright served as department chair and professor of animal science at the University of Vermont, where he partnered with medical faculty on clinical research, according to the email. After this, he served at the University of Arizona as an endowed chair and director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, managing a budget of $10.2 million and leading more than 100 faculty and staff.
Following Harper’s resignation, the Black Emergency Response Team and other community members called for transparency in the search for the new provost, citing the university’s “racist history.” Town halls for five candidates were held via Zoom, with faculty and staff invited to take part. During the interviews, the university requested attendees to not discuss the process outside the forum or reveal the names of candidates.
In the email, Harroz thanked Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs David Surratt and College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Wrobel for leading a national search, which attracted 55 “highly qualified” applicants. He also thanked members of the search committee — which included representatives from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, student government, alumni and faculty-at-large — for inviting five semifinalists to participate in virtual forums with the OU community. He wrote the search solicited feedback from all three OU campuses, with responses from more than 400 faculty and staff participants following the forums.
Harroz wrote in the email Wright, whose salary was unspecified in the email, was the “overwhelming top choice” from the search process, and he was strongly endorsed by the Faculty Senate leadership. He also wrote he’s confident Wright’s experience will provide “essential leadership” in efforts to achieve the university’s strategic plan.