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Teresa Sullivan Selected as Provost of The University of Michigan

Teresa A. Sullivan has been selected as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (UM). Since 2002, she has served as the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Texas System, where she was the first woman to serve in this role.

Sullivan was chosen after an eightmonth national search. The provost is the chief academic and budgetary officer and is responsible for sustaining and enhancing the University’s academic teaching, research, and creative excellence. She will oversee the activities of UM’s 19 schools and colleges as well as numerous interdisciplinary institutes and centers.

“I am extremely pleased that Terry Sullivan will be joining the University and the administration,” said UM President Mary Sue Coleman. The search advisory committee did an outstanding job in recruiting a large and superb pool of candidates, from which she emerged as the clear choice for this important position. Dr. Sullivan is a fine scholar, an outstanding educator and an accomplished administrator with a keen ability to nurture academic excellence and identify and develop strategic opportunities.”

Sullivan said of her new position, “It is an honor to join the University of Michigan and its excellent administrative team. I am excited to get to know this great University and its faculty, staff and students in depth. I am looking forward to working with President Coleman, the vice presidents, deans and others in helping move UM into a bright future.”

Labor Scholar

Sullivan will also hold a tenured faculty position as professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. She has distinguished herself as an outstanding scholar in labor force demographics, with a particular focus on economic marginality and consumer debt. Her other interests include social demography, law and society, and the sociology of cultural institutions. Most recently, her research has focused on credit and debt in America. Author of six books, her latest include The Social Organization of Work (2002) and The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt (with Elizabeth Warren and Jay Westbrook, 2000), which is now in its third edition and is considered by many the leading textbook on the sociology of work.

At the University of Texas-Austin she holds appointments as professor of sociology and Cox & Smith Inc. faculty fellow in law. Before her current position at Austin, she was the Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies and professor of law and sociology at Austin. Her other administrative positions at Austin included, vice provost, chair of the Department of Sociology, and director of the Women’s Studies Program. She received her BA from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1970 and her doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1975.

Consumer Debt

She has carried out groundbreaking research on consumer debt and bankruptcy, and her work in that field has been recognized with the Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association. Sullivan has received three major teaching awards at Texas for her undergraduate teaching. She regularly teaches a first-year undergraduate course titled “Credit Cards, Debt, and American Society.”

In her current post, serving as the chief academic officer for the system and overseeing its nine academic campuses, her accomplishments include developing new tuition-setting procedures, following deregulation of tuition by the Texas legislature; reviewing and nurturing research across the system; developing significant, innovative collaborations between academic campuses and health system campuses; and implementing a system-wide, coordinated planning process involving the system office and the individual academic campuses.

ASA Service

Sullivan has served in many important roles in the ASA, including three years of service as ASA Secretary and as a past editor of the Rose Series. In addition to her active role in the ASA, Sullivan is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and past chair of the U.S. Census Advisory Committee. Following the 1990 and 2000 censuses, she served on advisory boards to the Secretary of Commerce on the accuracy of the census count. In 2004, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award of James Madison College at Michigan State University.

“Terry Sullivan joins a growing list of stellar sociologists who are changing the ‘human-scape’ of academic leadership and science leadership in the United States at a time our discipline is vitally important to strengthening the higher education system to meet 21st century challenges. The University of Michigan will be well-served by its choice of Terry Sullivan,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman.