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Whitman College Names New Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Dr. Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak will join college as senior academic officer

Whitman College President Sarah Bolton announced the appointment of Dr. Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak as the college’s next provost and dean of the faculty.

Previously the provost at Bucknell, Mermann-Jozwiak will begin as Whitman College provost on July 1,  succeeding Provost Alzada Tipton. Her responsibilities will include oversight of the development of the academic program, hiring and supporting faculty, and overseeing accreditation and assessment.

President Sarah Bolton praised Mermann-Jozwiak’s extensive experience both as a provost and dean and as a teacher and scholar.

“In her prior roles, Dr. Mermann-Jozwiak supported the growth of new academic programs, increased the diversity of the faculty, supported development of faculty teaching and scholarly work, worked collaboratively with staff and faculty, and focused on student thriving and success,” says President Bolton.  “As we heard during her interviews, she is inspired by the liberal arts, committed to inclusive excellence, and holds great optimism for the power of a Whitman education for the future."

Mermann-Jozwiak has nearly 20 years of academic leadership experience including four years as the provost at Bucknell University. She spent six years at Gonzaga University where she served as the dean of the college of arts and sciences and interim academic vice president. Prior to that, Mermann-Jozwiak was a professor of English and an associate dean of the college of liberal arts at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.

Mermann-Jozwiak has written dozens of scholarly articles, book chapters and conference papers as well as two books – Languages and Literatures in the Borderlands: Conversations with Mexican American Writers and Postmodern Vernaculars: Chicana Literature and Postmodern Rhetoric. She received her master’s from University of Cologne in Germany and her doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mermann-Jozwiak was familiar with Whitman, having lived in the Pacific Northwest for six years and says she was impressed by the college’s reputation and the accomplishments of the faculty, staff and students.

“What spoke to me was Whitman’s steadfast belief in the exceptional and necessary experiences that a liberal arts education offers for the 21st century,” says Mermann-Jozwiak. “I was also impressed by Whitman’s commitment to inclusion that aligns so well with my values of ensuring that all students succeed in college, that faculty and staff are able to meet current students where they are at, and that all members of the community feel that they are welcomed and appreciated.”

As provost and dean of the faculty, Mermann-Jozwiak will be the chief academic officer of the college. She will build on past successes as she works to advance the college’s mission, strategy, and values as they relate to the academic program and work to identify opportunities for creative innovation within the liberal arts. In addition to hiring and developing faculty, Mermann-Jozwiak will also oversee the office of the registrar, library, off-campus studies, institutional research and the Career and Community Engagement Center as well as athletics.

The search for Whitman’s provost began in the Spring of 2023. A committee worked for more than six months on the nationwide search, vetting and interviewing a diverse group of highly-qualified candidates. Overall, the committee sought a candidate with broad intellectual curiosity, a deep commitment to the mission and values of a liberal arts college, strong leadership ability and communications skills, a passion for diversity with the ability to attract and support a diverse and inclusive faculty community and a collaborative leadership style.

Rebecca Hanrahan, chair of the search committee and chair of the faculty, said she is very pleased with the decision.

“Professor Merman-Jozwiak sees herself as a servant leader,” says Hanrahan. “She has assumed leadership roles to serve the greater good of her community, her institution, and of the people she works with and for, her staff, her students, her faculty, her colleagues.”

Hanrahan pointed out Merman-Jozwiak’s approach to her work is evident in the kinds of initiatives she has led, including a university-wide new faculty mentoring program, a postdoctoral-to-tenure program and a retention task force. She also led efforts at her prior institutions to bring equity and clarity to the policies and processes that are central to the functioning of an academic institution, such as the policies around faculty recruitment, promotion, and compensation. 

“She is collaborative and innovative, working with her faculty to develop interdisciplinary programs in health humanities and data science, to name just a few,” said Hanrahan. “I am excited to get to work with her in the coming years.”

Hanrahan also expressed great appreciation to the search committee for the many hours they invested to make the search process a success. 

Mermann-Jozwiak plans to move to Walla Walla in early summer and will begin her role in July 2024.

Published on Jan 12, 2024
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