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Sheldon Ekland-Olson named new UT provost

Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin. The appointment was made Friday (Sept. 18) by UT President Larry R. Faulkner and is effective Nov. 1.

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AUSTIN, Texas –Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin. The appointment was made Friday (Sept. 18) by UT President Larry R. Faulkner and is effective Nov. 1.

Ekland-Olson, a professor of sociology who holds the David Bruton Chair in Liberal Arts, has served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts since 1993. He also was an associate dean from 1991-93, and worked as special assistant to the chancellor of the UT System from 1988-91.

A specialist in the areas of criminal justice and prison violence, Ekland-Olson is the author or co-author of several books including Texas Prisons: And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, and most recently, The Rope, the Chair and the Needle. He also has written on the subject of death and dying and the moral and ethical issues of life and death.

“The University is most fortunate to be able to call on a person of Dean Ekland-Olson’s ability and experience for such an important post of leadership in this critical time,” said Faulkner. “He has led our largest college with distinction and is warmly regarded across the campus for his integrity and enthusiasm. Dean Ekland-Olson commands the highest respect of the search committee as well as the broad support of his fellow deans. He and I already have established a fine rapport, and I look forward very much to working in close partnership with him in the years ahead. There is much for us to do together.”

The provost is the University’s chief academic officer and is responsible for college/school planning and advising, academic programs, faculty recruiting and management of the overall UT Austin academic budget.

Ekland-Olson had been one of three finalists in a recent national search.

“President Faulkner has developed a well-conceived and farsighted agenda for this campus over the coming years. It is a remarkable honor and opportunity to be asked to join him in pursuit of these goals,” said Ekland-Olson. “Working with faculty, students, staff and administrators on this campus is something I have long enjoyed, and I have been heartened by the outpouring of warm wishes from all quarters. I look forward to a grand adventure with one and all.”

Faculty members from a variety of disciplines across campus applauded Ekland-Olson’s appointment, including Dr. Judith Langlois, who served as co-chairman of the provost search committee. “We have every confidence in, and we strongly endorse, Dean Ekland-Olson. He impressed committee members from all disciplines with his vision for and deep knowledge of the campus.”

“He will be an outstanding provost, and we are very fortunate he has agreed to serve. The committee could not be more pleased with President Faulkner’s choice. Larry Faulkner and Sheldon Ekland-Olson will be a terrific team,” said Langlois.

Dr. Ben Streetman, dean of UT’s College of Engineering, echoed these thoughts. “I am extremely pleased that Sheldon Ekland-Olson will be our new provost. He knows and loves this institution and will devote his considerable talent to making it better,” Streetman said. “As dean, he has made tremendous improvements in the spirit and quality of the College of Liberal Arts.”

“His interest and concern for students is apparent in the strong support he has received from student groups. Certainly, his fellow deans are delighted that he will take on the role of provost. We know him and trust him, and he will be a pleasure to work with. The combination of Larry Faulkner as president and Sheldon Ekland-Olson as provost puts this University in position to move into the very top ranks of public institutions.”

Dr. Robert May, dean of the College and Graduate School of Business and a provost search committee member, said he could not be more pleased that Ekland-Olson has been selected provost. “As the dean of liberal arts, the largest and most diverse college on campus, Sheldon has had to make some tough decisions. He gets very high marks for being firm, but fair,” said May.

“I am impressed with his vision for how the University should be managed and his grasp of the significant challenges we face. He is able to deal with the most serious issues with keen insight, sharp analytical thinking, and humor.”

Before joining the UT Austin faculty in 1971, Ekland-Olson attended Yale Law School where he was the Russell Sage Fellow in Law and Society. Before that, he received a bachelorÌs degree from Seattle Pacific University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Washington.

While at UT, Ekland-Olson has taught in several interdisciplinary areas, including not only liberal arts, but also the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs and the UT School of Law, where he has been a visiting professor. His teaching has earned him numerous teaching awards including the Alpha Kappa Delta Outstanding Teacher award in 1977-78; the DeanÌs (liberal arts) Outstanding Teacher Award in 1980-81; and the Liberal Arts Council Teacher of the Year award in 1986-87.

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