September 26, 2016

Office of Academic Innovation and New Ventures

(2016-SEPT-26 )

Dear Colleague:

Mason is committed to innovation, growth and financial stewardship as we strive to expand student access and increase academic excellence. I am pleased to announce some adjustments to the administrative structure in the Provost’s office to better align with the University’s strategic goals.

To formalize the process of exploring, launching and sustaining new educational ventures, we will form a dedicated office of Academic Innovation and New Ventures. Michelle Marks will lead this unit as Vice President, and her current position, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, will be eliminated. The Associate Provosts for Undergraduate and Graduate Education, currently reporting to the Vice Provost, will report directly to me. Professor Janette Muir will take on an expanded role within the new unit and an internal search will start shortly to replace the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. Professor Cody Edwards will remain in his role as the Associate Provost for Graduate Education, reporting to me but in close collaboration with Vice President of Research Deb Crawford to further leverage the synergy between graduate education and research programs.

Professor Marks has served in the Provost’s office for seven years, the last four as the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs. She chaired the committee that led Mason in the development of our institutional strategic plan, and launched and advanced academic initiatives such as the new partnership with Wiley Educational Services for online graduate education, a new comprehensive partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, and a Commonwealth initiative to create a statewide degree completion network. Her new role will allow her to combine the development of new ventures and alliances with thoughtful integration into our existing programs.

Innovative ideas and new ventures must be built on broad faculty and community engagement and develop with well-organized implementation and support. As such, integral to this new unit will be a program management team responsible for the identification, review and launch of new educational opportunities. We are seeking an Executive Director of Academic Ventures to lead the team that will streamline and guide our implementation processes.

New venture implementation must be complemented by careful integration with existing academic practices and systems. As such, Janette Muir will join the unit as the Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives and Services. Professor Muir will focus on the development and integration of academic areas that ensure programmatic success and the integrity of Mason degrees. She will assume oversight of the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Academic Accreditation and Compliance and other intercampus affairs, including academic programs at GMU Korea.

Academic Innovation and New Ventures will be charged to advance Mason’s digital learning and innovation agenda. Dr. Steve Nodine will join the unit as the director of the Office of Digital Learning, formerly the Office of Distance Education and Instructional Design. His office will continue to enhance the digital learning experience of Mason students through the use of digital tools, platforms and resources.

The new unit will incorporate the capabilities within Mason Learning Solutions under the leadership of Executive Director Brad Dawson. Mr. Dawson and his team will continue to leverage Mason’s vast intellectual core to provide integrated and professional learning solutions for the vibrant commercial and federal government communities.

Part of the mission for the new unit is to expand student access.  It will incorporate the Advising, Retention and Transitions function under the continued leadership of Dean Jeannie Brown Leonard. Dr. Brown Leonard will contribute to this new unit and shape campus wide student success efforts.

Mason is known for its tradition to innovate and to lead new paradigms. Academic Innovation and New Ventures will invest in initiatives that engage and build upon the expertise of faculty and colleagues in all our academic units, and to enhance our ability to expand access and increase academic excellence.

I look forward to our continuing collaboration on these new initiatives and changes, and am optimistic about what we will accomplish together for Mason.


S. David Wu

Provost and Executive Vice President

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