Provost and Dean of College Announcement

Nathan Howard ’25

News Editor

On January 24, 2023, Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau announced the selection of the College’s next Provost and Dean of the College, naming Elliot Visconsi ‘95 to the position. Visconsi will step into the role previously held by Margaret Freije, who devoted 35 years to working on Mount St. James. Provost Freije announced her retirement from Holy Cross in the fall of 2021, leading President Rougeau to embark on a national search for her successor that lasted over a year. In regards to Provost Freije’s announcement last fall, President Rougeau stated that “I am thrilled for her to enjoy a leave as she plans her next steps” and “I have been thoroughly impressed by the wisdom, skill and commitment that Provost Freije brings to her role.” Since July 1, 2022, Professor Ann Marie Leshkowich, Dean of the Faculty and professor of anthropology, has served as interim provost and will continue to do so until July 1, 2023, when Visconsi’s official term begins. Remarking on Leshkowich’s tenure as interim provost thus far, President Rougeau stated that “Rather than simply serving to keep the trains running, Ann Marie has worked tirelessly to support improvements across academic affairs including reimagining staffing roles, documenting processes, advancing inclusive excellence and engaging in the work of shared governance.” Additionally, President Rougeau added that he is “especially grateful for her academic leadership with our unexpectedly large entering class, critical faculty searches, and high number of tenure and promotion cases.”

Elliot Visconsi graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1995, receiving a A.B. cum laude in English. According to President Rougeau, Visconsi has credited his Jesuit education at Holy Cross as a primary inspiration for his “scholarly and professional formation.” Following his undergraduate work at Holy Cross, Visconsi received a Ph.D in English Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles and an M.S.L. from Yale Law School. Prior to his appointment as Provost and Dean of the College, Visconsi served as associate provost and chief academic digital officer at the University of Notre Dame. In this role, Visconsi has led Notre Dame to new innovative learning and teaching strategies, including interinstitutional collaboration, forms of digital learning, and experimental models for the future of education. Additionally, Visconsi has over 20 years experience working in higher education, notably as an assistant professor of English at Yale University and an associate professor of English and law at the University of Notre Dame. In regards to Visconsi’s academic and professional qualifications, President Rougeau stated that “His understanding that diversity, equity and inclusion are deeply anchored in the College’s Jesuit identity and his work to make inclusive pedagogy a signature priority at Notre Dame were identified as assets.” President Rougeau went on to explain that “His track record of collaborative academic innovation, cross-disciplinary experience in academic leadership, work on building effective, evidence-based, and engaging learning for students at all levels, and commitment to the principles of inclusive liberal arts education align with our vision for the role of Provost.”

  Visconti received the Dick and Peggy Notebaert Award for his innovative work in regards to his overseeing of a successful online master of science degree program at Notre Dame, which has been used as a model for other degree programs at the university. In addition, Visconsi is the recipient of distinguished fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. These fellowships have allowed Visconsi to explore and present on topics related to academic innovation, academic freedom, and campus freedom of speech in the digital age. These presentations allow Visconsi to share his innovation with colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. Furthermore, Visconsi has received awards for both mentorship and teaching excellence from multiple academic institutions, including Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Throughout his career in higher education thus far, Visconsi is a published author, whose work has appeared in a number of impressive academic journals. Articles written by Visconsi have been published in English Literary History and Raritan, Representations, Law & Literature. Additionally, Visconsi wrote his first book in 2007 titled “Lines of Equity,”which was published in the Cornell University Press. Currently, Visconsi is working on a book titled “Liberty, Stability & Gain,” which tells the history of religious pluralism in seventeenth-century Anglo-American culture. Visconsi is also known for his partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon & Schuster, as well as Katherine Rowe, the incumbent President of the College of William and Mary, to produce “a series of iPad applications to enable the effective study of Shakespeare’s plays.” Visconsi has also continued writing about the importance of the liberal arts education and its future during the digital age.

During his announcement, President Rougeau thanked the faculty, staff and students involved in this selection as well as the Provost’s office and the search committee for their work throughout the past year. The search committee’s members included Stephenie Chaudoir, Speaker of the Faculty and Associate Professor of Psychology, Renee Beard, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Geoff Findlay, Associate Professor of Biology, Ericka Fisher, Associate Professor of Education, Dottie Hauver, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, Timothy Joseph, AGC Member and Professor of Classics, Scott Malia, Associate Professor of Theatre, Michele Murray, Senior Vice President for Student Development and Mission as well as Dean of Students, Tim O’Brien, S.J., Associate Vice President for Mission, Juan Ramos, Associate Professor of Spanish, Lorelle Semley, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of History, Tomicka Wagstaff, Vice Provost and Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Heather Hayes, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff.

In concluding his announcement, President Rougeau exclaimed that he is “confident that Elliott’s leadership, in strong collaboration with our faculty, will ensure we reach new heights as we strive to offer a liberal arts education that is among the finest in the world.”

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