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Rose MA'87 PhD'93, Prasad MA'03 PhD'06 take on administrative roles

Lewis '90 to serve as associate dean in grad school, Elie to become assistant dean of financial advising

With the fall semester a mere two months away, four individuals will begin their positions as University administrators July 1. Tricia Rose MA’87 PhD’93, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and professor of Africana studies, will assume the part-time role of associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives; Shankar Prasad MA’03 PhD’06, assistant provost for strategic initiatives, will expand his portfolio to serve as the assistant provost for global engagements and strategic initiatives; Thomas Lewis ’90, professor of religious studies, will serve as associate dean of academic affairs of the graduate school; and Vernicia Elie is joining the University as the assistant dean of the College for financial advising.

Rose’s appointment figures into the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, wrote Provost Richard Locke P’17 in an email to faculty and staff members June 14. Rose will act as an advisor to departments as they create and implement their own departmental DIAPs and will recruit and support faculty members in the social sciences and humanities who come from historically underrepresented groups, Locke wrote.

The position of associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives is a fulfillment of the DIAP’s plan to “appoint a second, permanent associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives to continue coordinating these efforts in the social sciences and humanities,” according to the plan.

Rose’s appointment follows the success of Professor of Engineering Christopher Rose, who has worked as associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives for the past year, focusing on faculty cluster hiring of scholars from historically underrepresented groups in the physical sciences.

The position “will help us with our goals of attracting, recruiting, mentoring and supporting” faculty members from historically underrepresented groups, Locke said. “Tricia Rose, given her experience in this space, seemed to be the perfect person for this position.”

With June’s departure of former Associate Provost for Global Engagement Sonia Feigenbaum, Prasad will assume the responsibility of coordinating the University’s international efforts, Locke wrote in an email to faculty and staff members. This includes overseeing the Office of Global Engagement and supporting students, faculty members and staff members in their international research and travel.

Prasad joined the University in 2014 as associate director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, where he worked under Locke, the institute’s director at the time. As assistant provost for strategic initiatives, Prasad has worked closely with Locke over the past year and will continue to do so as he settles into his new role.

The decision to combine two positions — associate provost for global initiatives and assistant provost for strategic initiatives — “allows us to streamline our operations,” Locke said.

In his expanded role in the Provost’s Office, Prasad will aim to “increase the visibility of the research we do around the world,” he said.

“Central to (Brown’s) strategic plan is that we need to expand our global reach,” Prasad said, adding that one of his first priorities in the position is to create a “comprehensive internationalization strategy.”

This strategy would address three key areas of the University’s international profile: establishing and maintaining partnerships with organizations around the globe, streamlining the psychological and logistical resources for students and faculty members who come to campus internationally or are traveling internationally to study or do research and fostering a strong community for international students across campus, Prasad said.

Coordination with various offices across campus, such as the Office of Student Life, will be crucial in accomplishing these goals, Prasad said. “In this role, you have to be collaborative,” he said. His efforts will also involve engaging graduate students and programs because “global engagement encompasses everyone.”  

With Prasad’s help, Locke hopes to establish “more strategic and more customer-friendly” resources for international students as well as students and faculty members traveling abroad, he said. “We heard from our international students, especially our international grad students, that it wasn’t so easy for them.”

Specifically, Prasad hopes to improve resources related to immigration and visas. He is also interested in supporting students when they return from studying abroad as they transition back into life on campus, he said.

As the new associate dean of academic affairs of the graduate school, Lewis is charged with “guiding the graduate school” in continuing efforts to promote and develop the University’s graduate programs, Lewis said. This includes looking at existing and potential graduate programs, courses and teaching assistant practices.  

“We want Brown to be training people who are excellent and who are very well prepared, and part of that means (not only) engaging shifts in the market and engaging where opportunities are, but also defining where shifts ought to happen,” Lewis said. “You want to make sure that you’re not chasing the market, but defining what you think will be promising.”

The graduate student population is not a new constituency for Lewis, who recently served as the director of graduate studies in religious studies.

“Throughout my time at Brown, I’ve been working both with graduate and undergraduate students,” he said, adding that the two populations can coexist “in a way that’s symbiotic rather than competitive.”

In his new role, Lewis plans to pay special attention to “issues around diversity and inclusion” in the graduate school, where he hopes to “foster a climate of inclusion and excellence,” he said.

The decision to establish an assistant dean of the College for financial advising was announced to undergraduates last February , with recommendations stemming from a working group between administrators and students, The Herald previously reported.  

As assistant dean, Elie will work primarily with students who, based on their financial need, have “no expected parent financial contribution to Brown,” wrote Maitrayee Bhattacharyya, associate dean of the College for diversity programs, in an email to faculty and staff members June 6.

Establishing Elie’s position “was part of what we said we wanted to do in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, and even before that, to support first-gen students,” Locke said.

Elie will work toward increasing knowledge of the financial aid process and resources on campus as well as building a process to distribute “supplemental funds” to academic programming and enhancing student life, Bhattacharyya wrote.

The only outside hire of the four administrative appointments, Elie has worked as an admissions officer at the University of Chicago and in college counseling at United World College-USA. She has experience in research and coursework involving college access for low-income and first-generation students at highly-selective institutions, Battacharyya wrote.


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