June 28, 2011 — J. Milton Adams, recently named interim executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, sees himself serving the faculty and the students.
Adams, who has been vice provost for academic programs for eight years, replaces Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., who stepped down this spring, but recently announced he is remaining at the University as a University Professor and director of the Center for Health Policy.
A search committee, led by David Breneman, Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education in the Curry School of Education, hopes to have its work completed by late autumn.
As provost, Adams, a professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, is the University's chief academic officer, responsible for the operation and planning for the University's 11 schools. He also co-chairs the Internal Financial Model Steering Committee.
"The provost is responsible for the academic well-being of the University," Adams said. "The provost has to have a broad view of the academic mission."
Adams sees the provost as a servant-leader, serving the faculty and students while "creating and enabling opportunities to generate ideas and new research, new courses, new opportunities for community service," he said.
He cited the Jefferson Public Citizen program, started three years ago, as a perfect example of combining academics with community service. In that program, teams of students work with a faculty adviser to develop, study, propose, execute and publish a research and service project.
As vice provost, Adams coordinated the University Seminar program for first-year students. With colleagues, he began the January Term and new undergraduate Arts Awards, and he oversaw regional accreditation, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the College Guide program. He worked to support the AccessUVa financial aid initiative and co-chaired the Provost's Promotion and Tenure Committee.
"I'm grateful that Milton has agreed to step in as the interim provost," University President Teresa A. Sullivan said. "He is a most trusted and knowledgeable colleague, just the right person to lead the provost's office during the search. He brings a great depth of experience from his time here at the University and will keep the academic enterprise running smoothly during this interim period."
For Adams, the job means being part of a team process.
"I try to help faculty create new courses in a new way," he said. "When a student approached me about a sustainability minor and how that might get started, I had her connect faculty members and approach the architecture dean. Faculty all over the spectrum were interested.
"It's a matter of how to connect the people and the ideas," he said.
Adams, 61, received a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from U.Va. in 1976. Following a National Institutes of Health-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship in the trauma research program at the Albany (N.Y.) Medical College, he returned in 1978 as a faculty member of U.Va.'s Department of Biomedical Engineering. He was a visiting scientist at Dartmouth Medical School in 1984 and 1985, and assistant dean for graduate programs and associate dean for academic programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science prior to serving as vice provost.
Adams' research includes control mechanisms for the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, most recently control of a left ventricular assist pump. He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and served on the society's board.
He has won several teaching awards, including the Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in biomedical and electrical engineering and a seminar for first-year students in the College of Arts & Sciences.
"It is a challenge being an interim provost, but the idea is to build upon consensus, get others behind it," he said.