Monday, December 22, 2014

Art History Scholar, Administrator Maurie McInnis Named Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Maurie D. McInnis, a respected University of Virginia scholar, administrator and alumna, has been appointed vice provost for academic affairs, Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon announced.

McInnis was previously associate dean for undergraduate programs and professor of American art and material culture in the College of Arts & Sciences. In her role as vice provost, she will serve as the Simon’s chief adviser and representative on matters relating to the University’s academic activities, with a central role in strengthening connections between schools.

In addition, she will work closely with the Board of Visitors through its Educational Policy Committee, oversee institutional accreditation issues and academic program review, participate on the provost’s promotion and tenure committee, administer academic enhancement programs for undergraduate students and coordinate academic activities with other University leaders.

McInnis joined the provost’s office Jan. 1, and said she considers it an exciting time to be involved in nurturing collaborative programs and initiatives across Grounds.

“Much of my enthusiasm for this position is due to the leadership and energy the provost and president have demonstrated for moving the University forward in important areas,” she said.

Meredith Jung-En Woo, Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences, praised McInnis’ contributions to the College, where she has been responsible for supervising undergraduate operations.  

“Maurie’s long-standing connection to U.Va. – as an accomplished undergraduate student, a distinguished professor and a highly effective administrator – has given her a deep understanding of the student experience here and a passion for ensuring its continued excellence,” Woo said. “As an associate dean, she has masterfully guided the College’s undergraduate academic programs. I am confident she will continue to make important contributions to the University in her new role.”  

Jeffrey W. Legro, the University’s vice provost for global affairs, chaired the search committee that recommended McInnis.

“Maurie McInnis is a great choice for vice provost: she is an exceptional scholar with two award-winning books, has strong administrative experience as a chair and as a dean, is energetic and outgoing, and has a deep understanding of the University dating back to her days as an undergrad,” Legro said. “The search committee was impressed by her ability to define problems and address them, and to combine big-picture thinking and practical action. Maurie is a superb addition to the provost’s office.”

McInnis was a Lawn resident and Jefferson Scholar, Echols Scholar and Raven during her undergraduate days at U.Va. – she earned an art history degree with highest distinction in 1988 – and her Lawn room door plaque still hangs with her diploma in her office. After earning master’s and doctoral degrees at Yale, she joined the U.Va. faculty in 1998, and remains a professor in the McIntire Department of Art’s Art History Program.

Her scholarship focuses on the cultural history of American art in the colonial and antebellum South, with an emphasis on the intersection of art and politics, especially as it relates to slavery. Her latest book, “Slaves for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade,” tells the story of slavery from the vantage of British artist Eyre Crowe’s paintings and drawings, and explores the role of Richmond, Charleston and New Orleans in the slave trade.  

In October, her book won the 15th annual Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction. In April, she earned the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art.

McInnis expects to continue her scholarship and some teaching in her new role, and said it’s important to remain connected to academic life.

“For University administrators, teaching helps you understand the pulse of the students,” McInnis said. “You need to have those kinds of connections to hear directly from students about what is working, what’s not working, and what’s exciting to them about the U.Va. experience.”

Her upcoming projects include curating an exhibit at the Library of Virginia, “To Be Sold: Virginia and the Slave Trade,” which focuses on Richmond’s role in the sale of slaves.

McInnis is also in the early stages of a digital history project focused on the internal history of the University, as told by past faculty and students. The collaborative project draws on a range of in-house resources at U.Va., from the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities to archival records housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

In her new role as vice provost, she’ll work to foster similar collaboration across schools and administrative units at the University.

“While we don’t know what is going to emerge from the strategic planning process, we can certainly hope that a lot of that is going to be of a curricular nature, for both undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs,” McInnis said. “It’s easy to imagine that this position will be intimately involved in implementing many of the recommendations that result from that process.”

McInnis takes the position formerly held by Milton Adams, who as senior vice provost is now guiding the University’s strategic planning efforts.

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