Carol Fierke named next Brandeis provost and executive vice president

The internationally recognized biochemist will begin her tenure on January 1, 2021.

Carol Fierke

Carol Fierke

Internationally recognized biochemist Carol A. Fierke, the provost and executive vice president at Texas A&M University since 2017, has been named by Brandeis University as its next provost and executive vice president. Fierke, who earned her doctoral degree in biochemistry from Brandeis in 1984, will begin her tenure on January 1, 2021.
In her current role, Fierke oversees the academic deans of 17 colleges and schools, two special-purpose branch campuses, university libraries and academic affairs. She also holds professorships in chemistry and biochemistry and maintains an active research portfolio, including current research into the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Prior to arriving at Texas A&M, Fierke spent much of her career at the University of Michigan, where she began as a biological chemistry and chemistry professor, and served in several leadership roles, including chair of the chemistry department and vice provost and dean of the Rackham Graduate School. She did her postdoctoral fellowship at Pennsylvania State University and began her faculty career at Duke University. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Carleton College. Throughout her time in academic leadership and as a scientist, Fierke has championed the careers of women and people from underrepresented backgrounds in the sciences and the academy, and has led administrative initiatives to attract, retain and support diverse faculty and students.
“Dr. Fierke will bring to Brandeis a history of success in managing the operations of complex research institutions,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “Her academic career in both research and mentorship has embodied the type of connectivity and excellence that makes Brandeis distinctive. And as a consensus builder with a demonstrated commitment to making institutions more diverse, equitable and inclusive, Dr. Fierke is already a champion of the values that have defined the Brandeis community since 1948.”
“I am so pleased to welcome Dr. Fierke as our new provost. It was very clear in our search that Dr. Fierke was an excellent choice for Brandeis,” said Susan Birren, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience and chair of the search committee. “Her scholarship, her demonstrated commitment to Brandeis’ core values, and her long record of leadership in supporting faculty and students make her an excellent fit for this key role at our university.”
As provost at Brandeis, Fierke will serve as the university’s chief academic officer, responsible for teaching, learning, scholarship and research across the university. She will have broad oversight of the many dimensions of academic life, and will lead institutional priority setting related to Brandeis’ Framework for the Future.   
“As a doctoral student at Brandeis, I received a strong foundation in the spirit of inquiry and learned the value of cross-disciplinary research and teaching,” Fierke said. “I also became grounded in Brandeis’ founding values of academic excellence, openness and commitment to repairing the world. The opportunity to return to the university where I got my start as a scholar, working in the laboratory of William P. Jencks, is incredibly exciting. I look forward to supporting the university, my fellow faculty members and our students in Brandeis’ continued pursuit of excellence.”
An enzymologist, Fierke has published hundreds of papers and received dozens of awards over the course of her career. She received the American Chemical Society’s Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes and the Protein Society’s Emil Thomas Kaiser Award for her contributions in the application of chemistry to the study of enzymes. In 2019, she earned the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and foundations, including the National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Office of Naval Research, the Keck Foundation and the Welch Foundation.
“A provost with deep expertise in supporting scholarship is essential for an R1 research university like Brandeis,” said search committee member Isaac Kraus, professor of chemistry. “Dr. Fierke’s commitment to supporting faculty came through very clearly in the interview process, and I believe my colleagues will find her to be a tireless advocate for scholarship at Brandeis.”
Fierke succeeds Provost Lisa M. Lynch, a world-renowned economist who joined Brandeis as dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management in 2008. She became provost in 2014 and served as interim president of the university from 2015 until 2016. After a sabbatical, she will return to Brandeis as the Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy in the Heller School.
“Dr. Fierke’s renown as a scientist and academic leader makes her an ideal choice to be the next provost, overseeing our entire academic enterprise,” said Meyer G. Koplow '72, P'02, P'05, chair of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees. “We look forward to her returning to Brandeis in this important role.”
Fierke was selected after a nine-month-long national search; the search committee led by Birren included faculty and administrative leaders from all key departments at Brandeis. Isaacson, Miller was the university’s executive search firm.

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