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Vice Provost Newell to assume new position at Harvard

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 08:10


Kelvin Ma/Tufts University

Vice Provost Peggy Newell will assume the post of deputy provost at Harvard University in November.


 Vice Provost Peggy Newell will be leaving Tufts on Nov. 1 after 30 years to serve as Harvard University’s first deputy provost. 

“It’s an opportunity that came up very unexpectedly,” she said. “It’s an exciting new opportunity and a new challenge.”

Newell began her career at Tufts in 1982 as the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences’ registrar, later becoming the school’s assistant dean and then associate dean. She also became associate dean for special programs at the School of Medicine and, beginning in 1998, the associate provost for research. 

She has most recently served eight years as vice provost, assuming the role of interim provost and senior vice president during the 2011-2012 academic year before Provost David Harris filled the position this fall.

Some of Newell’s most notable undertakings at Tufts include the creation of the Office of Proposal Development, which helps faculty members find research funding opportunities, and the founding of the Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration to manage the school’s intellectual property portfolio.

Newell is also recognized for overseeing the university’s research policies, such as the use of human subjects and laboratory animals in experimentation. 

“I think that we have made a lot of difference in the support of the faculty and their research,” Newell said. “I certainly did not do that alone. I did that with a whole team of people and fabulous staff and the Office of the Vice Provost, very dedicated and talented people who helped to carry out all of that.”

According to Newell, one of her proudest accomplishments is establishing Tufts’ Research Day program, a series of events in which faculty from all of Tufts’ campuses put their research on display for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other faculty members.

“Every time we’ve ever had one of those events, somebody has left with a new collaboration and met someone that they didn’t meet before,” she said. “It’s actually very important for people in administrative positions to engage and see the research work that they’re supporting so they know why it’s so important.”

At Harvard, Newell said that she will work on a broad range of duties that pass through the provost’s office.

“Initially, my first early responsibilities will relate to the Allston building; they’re building a new campus in Allston,” she said. “I’ll be involved in the planning for the Allston campus and also helping them to assure that academic priorities at Harvard help to drive their fundraising objectives.”

Newell said she will miss the friends and colleagues she has worked with at Tufts over the years.

“It was really fun to get to know so many people across so many disciplines and to learn about what they were working on to try to find ways that I could help,” she said.

University Professor Sol Gittleman, a former Tufts provost, praised Newell for her various contributions to Tufts.

“There are very few people at universities who are really able to bring people together and to affect really good communication,” he said. “Since the moment she walked on this campus 30 years ago, she had an emotional intelligence that got people to cooperate. That at a university is worth its weight in gold.”

President Emeritus Lawrence Bacow worked with Newell for much of his tenure as university president.

“She was widely respected by all for her competence, decency and integrity,” Bacow told the Daily in an email. “She was one of the finest academic administrators I have ever been privileged to work with. She will be missed.”

Provost David Harris said he is confident that the university will find a well-qualified replacement for Newell before Nov. 1. 

“I have already consulted with the deans and other senior leaders regarding options for an interim vice provost for research, and a process for identifying a long-term replacement,” Harris told the Daily in an email.

The Tufts administration will hold two community receptions in honor of Newell’s work at Tufts. The first is on Oct. 24 at 3:00 p.m. at the Boston campus’ School of Dental Medicine Alumni Lounge and the second is on Oct. 25 at 4:00 p.m. at the Medford/Somerville campus’ Coolidge Room in Ballou Hall. 

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