Larry Larson, professor of engineering, will serve as the University's interim provost following the departure of Provost Richard Locke P’18 at the end of the 2022 calendar year, according to a University-wide announcement from President Christina Paxson P’19 Tuesday.
“Larry is a well-known and highly regarded member of the Brown community,” Paxson wrote. Through his “years of experience working closely with the provost and other academic leaders … he has a deep understanding of the people, systems and operations that make Brown function as a strong community.”
After over seven years as provost, Locke will leave his position to become the new vice president and dean of Apple University, a school operated by the tech company that aims to teach employees Apple’s business culture and history, The Herald previously reported. Larson, who was formerly dean of Brown’s School of Engineering, will serve as interim provost until a long-term provost steps into the role, which Paxson estimated will occur no later than July 1, 2023.
Larson is “a collaborative leader who is ideally positioned to help sustain momentum in support of Brown’s academic mission in the months between Provost Locke’s departure and the arrival of our next provost,” wrote University Spokesperson Brian Clark in an email to The Herald.
Larson will return to the University from his post-deanship sabbatical, which began last semester, and work with Locke throughout the month of December to ensure a “smooth leadership transition,” Paxson wrote in the announcement.
Paxson added that she particularly appreciates Lawson’s willingness to interrupt his “well-earned” sabbatical following his time as dean to step in as provost. While his sabbatical has been a necessary time to refresh his scholarship and explore new intellectual opportunities, Larson wrote in an email to The Herald that he would “never hesitate to ‘step up’ and help the Brown community when asked.”
“Provost Locke and I have a wonderful relationship, having worked closely together all of these years,” Larson wrote, adding that he plans to meet with Locke regularly throughout December and has been invited to attend regular meetings with other members of the provost’s office.
“Our goal together is to assure a smooth transition in the time ahead so that we continue the great trajectory that (Locke) has played such an important role in putting us on,” he added.
The provost search committee, convened earlier this semester by Paxson, has made “great progress with an outstanding slate of candidates,” Paxson wrote in the announcement. But it was unlikely that a new provost would be fully equipped to enter their position by Locke’s December departure, she added.
As a result, “I have decided to appoint an interim provost who can sustain the strong trajectory of academic leadership for Brown through the spring semester,” Paxson wrote.
Larson is one of the nine members on the provost search committee, which gives him further insight into the expectations of his interim position, Paxson added.
Larson first came to the University on July 1, 2011 as the inaugural dean of the School of Engineering after the University elevated the Division of Engineering to a full-fledged school.
“Professor Larson has a strong record of achievement as an engineer in the private sector and as a researcher and administrator in the academy,” said former President Ruth J. Simmons in a press release when Larson’s initial appointment was announced. “He will be a skillful and committed leader as our new School of Engineering grows, develops and realizes its full potential.”
Larson served in his role as dean until June 30. Over his decade of leadership, he expanded the University’s biomedical and environmental engineering research, grew the school’s external research funding and increased the number of tenure-track engineering faculty, The Herald previously reported.
Through this role, Larson gained experience in developing academic programs and research enterprises, managing capital improvements and creating strong learning communities, which will inform his actions as provost, according to Paxson.
During his time at the University, Larson has also had the chance to “work closely with a wide range of constituencies across campus,” including students, faculty and staff from various academic centers across campus, he wrote. Having served on the President’s Cabinet throughout his tenure, Larson also has experience working with senior leaders at the University, he added.
“All of that experience gave me a very good perspective on overall strategic planning and direction at Brown,” he wrote. “I have a clear sense of where we stand now in regard to fulfilling established goals, addressing areas that can be strengthened and considering new opportunities for the years ahead.”
Larson stated that he specifically wants to continue the University's dedication to increasing its academic excellence, growing research and scholarship, supporting sustainability and strengthening its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“All of these things are really important to me,” Larson wrote, “and I hope we can launch and support new initiatives in all of these areas.”
Alex Nadirashvili is the managing editor of multimedia and social media for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. As a former University News editor, he covered faculty, higher education and student life, though his proudest legacy is The Brown Daily Herald TikTok account.