Skip to main content area Skip to sub-navigation
Skip to main content

Provost Announcement

Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce that Alan R. Townsend will become Colorado College's provost and Professor of Environmental Science on June 1.
 
Professor Townsend is currently director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and professor in the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He will come to CC with a background of strong leadership, excellent strategic planning, successful fundraising, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. He earned his B.A. in biology from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University. Professor Townsend is an ecologist who studies how ecosystems work, how they are changing, and what those changes might mean for society. His nationally prominent research includes work on nutrient cycling and biogeochemistry in tropical forests, and global-scale analyses of human impact on major element cycles. 
 
As the college's initiatives have grown with the Fine Arts Center, Innovation, and the expanded library, we welcome an experienced academic leader to guide and integrate these initiatives. Professor Townsend is an inclusive leader, scholar, and champion of the liberal arts — all qualities that will serve CC well.
 
As our provost, Professor Townsend will be the college's chief academic officer and the college's second-ranking officer with strategic responsibilities that span the entire institution. He will report to the president, serve on the president's cabinet, take a leadership role in the annual budget process, and implement our updated strategic plan.
 
Carol Neel, professor of history and co-chair of the search committee with me, said, "Our new provost is a path-breaking scholar who is also a forceful and articulate public intellectual, a skilled administrator dedicated to empowering those around him, and a nuanced advocate of the liberal arts able to focus our collaboration in this central mission."
 
Currently, at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Professor Townsend is responsible for the financial health, personnel management, and strategic decision-making for an institute with about 300 tenure-track faculty, staff and student positions, and formal links to seven academic departments across two colleges.
 
Professor Townsend spent 17 years on the faculty at CU Boulder before becoming dean of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment in 2014. He returned to CU Boulder in 2017 as the associate vice chancellor for research; Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research Fellow; and professor of environmental studies. Before his time at Duke, he served as director of the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation and the lead of CU Boulder's efforts to secure the U.S. hub of Future Earth, now located in CU Boulder's Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community. He also co-directed the national Aldo Leopold Leadership Program.
 
Professor Townsend's fellowships and awards include being an Ecological Society of America fellow; Google Science Communication Fellow; Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow; CU Junior Faculty Development Award; NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow; and NASA Global Change Graduate Fellow. 
 
He has published extensively, with more than 100 refereed publications, over 20,000 citations, and approximately $26 million in federal and foundation grant awards.
 
Thank you to the search committee and to the many faculty, staff, and students who were instrumental in helping to define the college's needs and select an outstanding leader for CC.

Best regards,

Jill