Mark S. Schlissel named 11th provost of Brown University

April 5, 2011  |  Media Contact: Marisa Quinn |  401-863-2453
Mark S. Schlissel - Eleventh Provost of Brown University
Mark S. Schlissel Eleventh Provost of Brown University
Mark S. Schlissel, currently dean of biological sciences in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California–Berkeley, has been named the 11th provost of Brown University. He will begin his duties at Brown July 1, 2011, succeeding David I. Kertzer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., currently dean of biological sciences in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California–Berkeley, will become the 11th provost of Brown University on July 1, 2011, succeeding David I. Kertzer. Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons made the announcement this afternoon (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) at the regular monthly meeting of the Brown faculty.

“Mark Schlissel comes to Brown with a record of significant accomplishments,” Simmons said. “He is above all an excellent and highly rated scholar and teacher. His experience in research, both in the laboratory and administratively as dean of biological sciences, will enable him to become an effective leader at Brown.”

The provost is the University’s chief academic officer, second in rank to the president, and serves as deputy to the president in a range of University matters. Many of the University’s senior positions report directly to the provost, including the deans of the undergraduate College and Graduate School, the dean of the faculty, the University librarian, the chief information officer, dean of admission, director of financial aid, vice president for research, and vice president for international affairs. The provost is the officer in charge when the president is away from campus.

Schlissel was recommended by a 12-member search committee, appointed by Simmons when Provost Kertzer announced he would step down at the completion of his five-year term at the end of June. The search committee conducted a five-month international search for his successor. Simmons chaired the committee.

“I was attracted to Brown because of its unique and widely admired undergraduate educational program and by its commitment not to rest on its laurels but to aspire to even greater impact on our society,” Schlissel said. “By funding need-blind admissions, increasing the size of the faculty, and investing in teaching and research infrastructure, Brown has assembled a platform for fantastic achievements in the years ahead. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with President Simmons and the entire Brown community to address challenges and embrace new opportunities. I can’t imagine a more exciting academic leadership position and I am anxious to get started.”

“The appointment of a provost — the University’s chief academic officer — is of vital interest to the entire faculty,” said Cynthia Garcia Coll, professor of education and chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, who was invited to interview Schlissel as part of the search process. “The search committee of faculty members and student representatives was deliberate and thorough. We are looking forward to working with Dr. Schlissel toward reaching a new level of excellence.”

In addition to Simmons, the search committee included Wayne Bowen, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology; Susan Cu-Uvin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Melani Cammett, associate professor of political science; James Dreier, professor of philosophy; Karen Fischer, professor of geological sciences; Andrew Foster, professor of economics; Ralph Rodriguez, associate professor of American civilization; Jimmy Xu, professor of engineering and physics; Heather Lee, past president of the Graduate Student Council; Sunil Hebbar, president of the Medical Student Senate; and Diane Mokoro, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students. The committee was staffed by Russell Carey, senior vice president for corporation affairs and governance.

Mark S. Schlissel

A graduate of Princeton University (B.A., summa cum laude, 1979, biochemical sciences), Schlissel earned his M.D. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1986, physiological chemistry). He did his residency training in internal medicine at Hopkins Hospital and conducted postdoctoral research as a Bristol-Myers cancer research fellow under David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Whitehead Institute.

Schlissel began his independent research career at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1991, where he earned a number of awards and fellowships for his research and for his teaching. He moved to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California–Berkeley in 1999 as associate professor, advancing to full professor in 2002. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in immunology as well as a large introductory course in biology for life science majors.

Schlissel’s research has focused on the developmental biology of B lymphocytes, the cell type in the immune system that secretes antibodies. His work has led to a detailed understanding of genetic factors involved in the production of antibodies and how mistakes in that process can lead to leukemia and lymphoma. He is the author or co-author of nearly 100 scientific papers.

As an academic administrator, Schlissel began serving as chair of the department’s graduate admission committee in 2001. He served as vice chair of the department from 2002 to 2007 and was appointed dean of biological sciences in July 2008. Nationally, he has served as member (2002-04) and chair (2004-06) of the Immunobiology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health and currently serves as a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Scientific Review Board. Schlissel was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigators in 1998 and has been a member of the American Association of Immunologists since 1992. He has helped organize major international scientific meetings and is a frequent seminar speaker at universities through the United States.

Schlissel and his wife Monica Schwebs, an environmental and energy lawyer with a large national firm, have four adult children.

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