President Bollinger announced that Columbia University Provost Mary Boyce will step down on June 30, 2023, but will remain at Columbia as a member of the Engineering faculty.

This afternoon, President Bollinger informed the Columbia University community that Provost Mary Boyce will be stepping down from her role on June 30. According to the email sent by President Bollinger to students, Boyce plans to return to research and teaching as a member of the Columbia Engineering faculty. The full text of President Bollinger’s email to students can be found below.

This announcement follows other notable administrative appointment changes in the 2022–2023 school year. In April 2022, President Bollinger announced his resignation as Columbia University President, effective June 30, 2023. In July 2022, Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock announced that she too would leave the college at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. Dean of Columbia University’s School of the Arts Carol Becker also plans to step down in June.

As Columbia University Provost, Boyce has served as Columbia’s chief academic officer, directing the development and implementation of academic plans and policies, managing faculty appointments and the tenure review process, and aiding the CFO in overseeing school and university budgets. Prior to her role as Provost, Boyce served as Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and as a Professor of Engineering from 2013-2021.

In his email, President Bollinger noted Boyce’s many accomplishments as Provost, including helping lead Columbia through the COVID-19 pandemic, her focus on building “interdisciplinary bridges across schools, in developing programs to support new approaches to teaching and pedagogy, and on accelerating the recruitment of faculty from historically underrepresented groups.” Boyce also oversaw Columbia’s launch of the Common Data Set Initiative.

Information regarding Boyce’s successor has yet to be released. President Bollinger has noted that plans regarding the Provost position will be shared as they take shape.

Email from President Bollinger to Columbia students on April 6, 2023:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

I write to share that Mary C. Boyce will step down from her role as Provost on June 30, 2023, capping off a decade of masterful service to Columbia in the highest levels of University leadership. I am very happy to announce that she will return to teaching and research full time as a member of the Columbia Engineering faculty.

Mary’s tenure as the chief academic officer of this institution saw the University through some of the most gratifying achievements and complex challenges in its recent history.

As Provost, she helped lead Columbia out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, presiding over the return of all students, faculty, and staff to campus in the fall of 2021. Tenaciously, she worked to ensure that we maintained our standards of academic excellence while keeping everyone safe and deepening our shared resilience and empathy.

As she does with every assignment, Mary has brought great dedication and energy to her work as Provost. She focused on building interdisciplinary bridges across schools, in developing programs to support new approaches to teaching and pedagogy, and on accelerating the recruitment of faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

She also brought unprecedented transparency to our admissions process through the launch of Columbia’s Common Data Set Initiative, with its mission to provide comprehensive and independently verified information to prospective students and their parents. She steered what had been a years-long graduate student unionization process to a successful conclusion, and helped us welcome record numbers of new deans.

Mary’s accomplishments as Provost built upon her eight years of leadership as Dean of Columbia Engineering. There, she recruited a wide array of gifted faculty and oversaw the renovation and expansion of classroom and laboratory spaces across the school. She led impressive fundraising efforts, expanded access to students and faculty from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM, and created educational programs and initiatives focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and design. Mary was known for prioritizing the growth of collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts to confront global challenges facing society through basic research and real-world implementation. Perhaps most famously, she helped lead a group of scientists from Columbia and Cornell University in designing a reconstruction plan for the L train that avoided closing the line, which had been significantly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

All that Mary has achieved is grounded in the depth and breadth of her talents as a scholar and scientist. A mechanical engineer who works in nanotechnology and materials research, she has focused on the behaviors of soft polymers and composites. Her groundbreaking contributions include creating new modeling methods for the use of engineers in designing planes, transportation vehicles, and biomedical devices, among others. Her impact as a mentor and scholar is also visible through the doctoral students and postdocs from her group holding faculty positions across the country and around the world. In 2020, she was awarded the Timoshenko Medal, the highest honor accorded by the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, of which she is a fellow. She has also been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Before coming to Columbia, Mary was on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for more than 25 years, including as Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

We celebrate Mary for her leadership, for her scholarship and teaching, and for her perfect collegiality. She has left an indelible mark on this institution and helped secure its future for generations to come. I am personally grateful to her for her unwavering commitment to academic excellence and to serving Columbia. Plans will be shared for her successor as they take shape. For this moment, however, we all join in thanking her for all she has done for every member and part of our community.


Lee C. Bollinger

Low Library via Bwog Archives