December 03, 2020

Mary Boyce Appointed Provost

On Thursday, December 3rd, 2020, President Bollinger sent the following announcement to the Columbia community.

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I write today, with great happiness, to announce my appointment of Mary C. Boyce, presently Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, as the next Provost of the University. We are, indeed, fortunate to have someone with Dean Boyce’s combination of administrative capacity, academic accomplishment, and deep knowledge of Columbia to assume this role, which is always critical to the University’s future but is especially so at this remarkable moment. Mary will officially take over as Provost on July 1, 2021. Ira Katznelson, who has been both gracious and enormously effective as Interim Provost, during a time of challenges both unforeseeable and monumental, has generously agreed to continue on until July.

Mary’s service as Dean these past seven years has been exemplary. The School has thrived, buoyed by her celebration of intellectual creativity in all its forms, by her thoughtful expansion of the School’s academic programming, and by the recruitment of top scholars from around the world to the Engineering faculty. Propelled by a firm belief in the value of interdisciplinary work, Mary has led in establishing connections among Columbia Engineering and other parts of the University. Due to her determined efforts, we now have more faculty working together in areas such as Data Science, Nano Science, Sensing and Imaging, Sustainability, and Engineering in Medicine. Dean Boyce has brought Columbia Engineering’s expertise to the world, perhaps most notably by organizing Columbia faculty to help resolve an engineering bottleneck that was threatening the reconstruction of the L train subway tunnel with cost and time overruns. And Mary has made a special effort to advance the cross-disciplinary and creative opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students through new spaces, new design and research programming, and new curricular and co-curricular offerings.

Mary has also been influential in her contributions to the University at large. She has been an important advisor on virtually every one of the many new initiatives we have set forth over the past several years. And her distinguished service on important search committees for key University appointments has broadened her knowledge of the institution and provided wise counsel when it was needed.

Dean Boyce is Columbia’s Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor of Engineering. When she arrived at Columbia in 2013 to lead the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Mary had been on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 25 years, a period during which her research in the area of materials and mechanics led to innovative hybrid material design and earned broad respect across the field. Dean Boyce is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering. She earned her BS degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and her MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

In short, Mary is an accomplished scholar, an effective leader, and a consummate University citizen. I am delighted she has agreed to serve as Provost and look forward to working even more closely with her in the years to come. I will write soon about a search for Mary’s successor and interim leadership at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. But now, we celebrate our good luck in having Mary’s many talents dedicated to the advancement of Columbia.


Lee C. Bollinger