FIU to provost: It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later

Staff Writer/Camila Fernandez

University members only had kind words to say about Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok — knowledgeable, inspirational, tireless, a leader.

President Mark B. Rosenberg said Wartzok, who is stepping down from his provost position, exceeded his expectations.

“The easier my life is, the harder the provost is working, and I’ve had an easy life,” Rosenberg said to the Faculty Senate on April 8.

Given his experience as graduate dean at the University of Missouri, Rosenberg convinced Wartzok to take the provost position five years ago.

“The easier my life is, the harder the provost is working, and I’ve had an easy life,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg.

“He also enlisted President [Modesto] Maidique to get me enthusiastic. Between the two of them, it was pretty hard to resist,” Wartzok said. “With the wonderful diversity of our student population, and being an urban university with a major metropolitan area that certainly rivals New York for creative activity, it was a pretty easy decision to make.”

Wartzok, who has been at the University for 42 years, served as the dean of graduate studies and vice president of academic affairs, before his appointment as interim provost in 2009 and provost in 2010.

This appointment had a condition: Wartzok would only fill the position for up to five years.

Now leaving to Australia on sabbatical, Wartzok said he is ending on a high note, being recently appointed to the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies. He said he hopes to return to the University in 2015 in a different position.


Photos by Jeffrey Pierre/FIUSM

He said FIU is a “university of the future.”

“I have no intention to go anyplace else other than FIU,” Wartzok said.

According to Rosenberg, Wartzok was instrumental in the growth of the University, generally with undergraduate students.

“He makes my job easier, no question,” Rosenberg said in an interview with Student Media. “He is a personification of a world class professor.”

Wartzok noted the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’, the University’s regional accreditor, biggest criticism about FIU in 2001 — the graduate program had grown rapidly, but there was a lack of a “central oversight” of graduate programs.

Wartzok said that as provost, he understood that there was too much focus on research and graduate education and not enough at the undergraduate level, however.

“I thought that I needed to compensate for my background in graduate work and pay a little more attention to the undergraduates,” Wartzok said.

Besides accomplishing the highest award for undergraduate education and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Most Visible Progress award for outstanding improvement in six-year graduation rate and major graduate education award from the Council of Graduate Schools, Wartzok has also been an influential figure for his colleagues right here at FIU.

“Provost Wartzok has provided outstanding leadership to us. I would like to thank him for the clarity he brought to every issue at hand and for his quick responses to every question we have,” said Lakshmi Reddi, dean of the Graduate School.

With his popularity of wearing Birkenstock sandals, Chief of Staff Birgitta Rausch-Montoto described Wartzok as a “humble, low-key leader” who has held a very powerful role.

“He has probably been the hardest working individual I’ve ever worked with,” Montoto said. “He is very focused and very engaged; just in tune with what he’s doing. He has inspired me to be a better leader.”

“He is very focused and very engaged; just in tune with what he’s doing. He has inspired me to be a better leader,” said Chief of Staff Birgitta Rausch-Montoto.

After committing to only five years as provost, Wartzok and his wife Susan Wartzok, Head of Cataloging for FIU Libraries, are looking forward to hiking in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and in Australia’s Southern Alps, where they have climbed the Horn of Mount Buffalo.

“We love to travel, and even though we have traveled some during these past five years, most of that travel has been in conjunction with a conference or a meeting that Doug needed to attend,” Susan Wartzok said.

Wartzok plans to return next year for FIU’s 50th anniversary and hopes that much more will be accomplished. But until then, he said there is much to do in Australia.

He has arranged for his sabbatical at Macquarie University in Sydney and is planning on writing papers in his area of research – marine mammals and marine policy.

“Being provost is a job that you work on every day of the week, every weekend and usually about 18 hours a day. So it’d be nice to do a little something different,” Wartzok said.


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