New Provost on the Block

Samantha Mathewson

A new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs will join the University of New Haven community this summer.

Provost Daniel J. May. Photo by UNH Today

Daniel J. May, who had previously been the vice president for academic affairs at the University of Findlay in Ohio, was selected after the unanimous choice of the search committee.

May is replacing David Dauwalder, who will become executive vice president and provost at Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif., on April 1.

“I am confident that Dr. May’s innovative strategies and agile responsiveness to market needs will benefit the University of New Haven over the next several years as we continue to grow,” said President Steven H. Kaplan. “Dr. May has a strong reputation of simultaneously focusing on high academic standards and student success. His skills and expertise will be of great value to UNH as it continues its transformation.”

May has worked at Findlay since 1991 when he was appointed assistant professor of geology. He eventually rose to full professor in 2001 and dean of the university’s College of Sciences later in 2003. In the following year, May was named Findlay’s vice president for academic affairs.

May describes Findlay as “a small university located in a small city in rural Ohio. Both the city and school have a strong sense of community. This is partly due to location, as we are 40 miles from a comparable size town and more than 100 miles from a big city. The attitude here is thus one of ‘Do it yourself; do it together.’ I have admired and enjoyed that community and school spirit for 22 years.”

Due to May’s leadership, Findlay has grown its enrollment steadily by adding innovative undergraduate majors, professional graduate programs, online delivery of courses, and a variety of continuing education and consulting services. May’s efforts have helped Findlay’s reputation to grow regionally and nationally.

To better the University of New Haven’s community, May brings knowledge in addition to his good record of building interdisciplinary teams on campus, forming partnerships with off-campus organizations, and launching new and innovative programs. “I function as an administrator pretty much the same as I did when I was a teacher (or coaching my children), mainly asking people to set stretch goals, and push the envelope a bit. The joy of successfully completing more than you initially thought you might accomplish becomes self-perpetuating.”

When asked what differences he expects to encounter he compared UNH to the University of Findlay, and said it is both 50 percent larger and in a larger metropolitan region with more direct competition among colleges in the New Haven area. “I expect the pace to be a bit faster, and it will take some time to become part of the community. However, the people at UNH and in the area seem just as friendly as those in the Midwest.”

May had also served on the faculty at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, from 1986 to 1989, and at Bowling Green State University in 1990-91, prior to his work at Findlay.

May earned his bachelor’s degree in geology at Stanford University and a Ph.D. in geology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“I am drawn by the vision, energy, and shared adventurous spirit which define UNH today,” said May. “It is a privilege to join such an organization. It will be a pleasure to work with faculty, staff, and students to help all to thrive in these challenging and exciting times in higher education.”

Provosts are typically responsible for supervising and directing instructional, curricular, and research affairs of their postsecondary institution. They also create budgets, arrange appointments, make decisions regarding tenure, and establish academic policies and programs. They provide assistance to the presidents of institutions and direct and organize the tasks of deans and chairpersons of specific academic colleges and departments. They also handle recruitment, academic programming, and the concerns of faculty and staff. Provosts assess the needs of the institution and strive to ensure that academic excellence and the mission of the institution is achieved.

When is comes to the changes May will be experiencing he said, “I am excited by the opportunity, and have always embraced change. UNH has a strong, experienced leadership team, and I will learn from them. There are lots of good ideas at all levels of the organization, and across all the colleges and student affairs units. Also, I grew up in Chicago and then spent about 15 years near the Pacific Ocean when I lived in California and New Zealand. It will be nice to be both in an urban setting again, and near the Atlantic.”