March 28, 2001
Last month, Tulane named Lester A. Lefton as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 1. Lefton is currently the dean of the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The senior vice president of academic affairs is responsible for overseeing the university's 10 deans and more than 500 faculty on its uptown campus, as well as the university's graduate school, libraries and international programs.
Lefton's appointment ends a nine-month national search to replace former provost Martha Gilliland, who left Tulane to become chancellor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Tulane President Scott Cowen calls Lefton an individual with the precise blend of personal and professional attributes and values for which Tulane was searching. He is a proven leader within the academic community and an individual who has demonstrated the creativity and foresight to address the high-priority academic issues facing Tulane in this decade.
Lefton, who earned his doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Rochester, also served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina for three years. Prior to that he was chair of the psychology department for nine years. Lefton's agenda is ambitious.
"I am looking forward to working with the faculty and President Cowen to take Tulane to the next level and to enhance academics and create a community of scholars unparalleled in the United States," he said. "I am especially interested in engaging the student body intellectually while at the same time sharpening the focus of our undergraduate and graduate programs."
In speaking of Tulane's future, Lefton said, "Tulane has the people, the facilities, and the ambitions of a truly distinguished university. I plan to help Tulane serve as a visionary leader in higher education and to make it an inspiration for students to become local, national and world leaders."
At The George Washington University, Lefton has implemented a major strategic planning initiative, established a mentoring program for new faculty, developed a school-community partnership board and launched a major minority recruitment effort. Cowen says Lefton will be engaged in similar activities at Tulane.
In particular, Dr. Lefton will work with the faculty and others to ensure that we successfully implement Tulanes strategic plan with respect to the undergraduate experience, graduate and professional education, research and its people. Lefton, whose teaching and research focuses on cognitive psychology, has written two psychology textbooks that are used at more than 200 colleges, and he has authored more than 40 articles for professional and academic journals.
He has received federal grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has been formally recognized several times for his teaching abilities, both by students and by his peers.
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