The University of Arizona

Andrew C. Comrie Named UA Provost

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications | July 25, 2012

UA President Ann Weaver Hart has appointed Andrew C. Comrie, the UA Graduate College dean, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

UA Graduate College Dean Andrew C. Comrie has been named the UA's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. His appointment begins Aug. 1.
UA Graduate College Dean Andrew C. Comrie has been named the UA's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. His appointment begins Aug. 1.

Andrew C. Comrie, the Graduate College dean and associate vice president for research, has been named the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

In a campus memo released July 25, UA President Ann Weaver Hart announced Comrie's appointment, which will be effective Aug. 1 through June 30. Comrie's appointment will go before the Arizona Board of Regents during September.

Comrie replaces UA Provost Jacqueline Lee Mok, who took a position at Johns Hopkins University, and will remain in the post while the University conducts a nationwide search to fill the position permanently.

"As dean, Dr. Comrie's accomplishments include raising the campus profile of the graduate enterprise, regularizing support for graduate interdisciplinary programs and increasing support for graduate student fellowships," Hart wrote.

"He introduced competitive programs to increase private and public extramural graduate student support, and he has worked with colleagues to maintain and strengthen exemplary programs to increase student access to graduate education," Hart continued. "As associate vice president for research he has been active in technology transfer and entrepreneurship, research integrity and ethics, and advancing strategic research agendas across multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas."

Comrie has invested the last two decades of his professional career in the UA. His research and administrative-level work on initiatives, projects and in programs has directly impacted and engaged students at all levels, faculty and staff and also the broader community.

"I've been working in various aspects of academic life for the University for 20 years, and the opportunity to serve the whole university is obviously a great honor," said Comrie, who in 1992 joined what is now the UA School of Geography and Development where he is currently a professor. "I have had the rare opportunity to get a feel of the wide range of activities and ways of doing things on a large university campus like ours."

Comrie said that among the most pressing issues his office will be attentive to are performance measures instituted by the Arizona Board of Regents, strengthening the UA's academic programs, expanding campus engagement and determining how best to employ the responsibility centered management model at the UA.

"When we think of academic programs, some may think specifically about classrooms and teaching," Comrie said. "The provost’s office does focus on academic affairs, but it also focuses on the broader connections among the various types of learning that go on across campus, and also with the broader responsibilities and missions of the institution."

Comrie said his experience across multiple programs as both a faculty member and researcher along with his administrative responsibilities have especially prepared him to serve as provost.

Prior to the UA, Comrie completed his undergraduate work in 1984 at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, having studied geography. He went on to earn a Master of Science in environmental and geographical science from the institution in 1988. He later earned his doctorate in geography from Pennsylvania State University in 1992.

As a UA researcher and climatologist, Comrie has investigated climate variability and change, often engaging with scholars across disciplines and at other institutions. In particular, Comrie's scholarly expertise is in understanding the connections between climate and disease.

Additionally, Comrie also has several joint appointments in other UA departments, including atmospheric sciences and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; he is affiliated with the Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs, or GIDPs, in arid lands resource sciences, entomology and insect science, global change, remote sensing and spatial analysis and statistics.

In 2006, Comrie was appointed to his current position where his responsibilities have included GIDPs, which also include American Indian studies, applied biosciences, cancer biology, genetics, neuroscience and statistics. More than 600 UA faculty members are engaged in GIDPs across more than one dozen University colleges.

Comrie recently served as interim co-director of the Office of Technology Transfer and as chair of the UA’s committee on institutional conflict of interest.

His involvement and impact have extended well beyond the University. He has held national affiliations important to the higher education sector, including service as a board member for the Graduate Record Examination and the Council of Graduate Schools.

Also Comrie, who has published more than 70 book chapters, book reviews and scholarly articles in his field, has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on numerous grants and contracts, collaborating with UA researchers and scientists at other U.S. institutions.

Among the agencies that have funded Comrie's research are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and also Science Foundation Arizona. 

Comrie said he looks forward to serving as the UA provost and aiding in the continued growth of the institution.

"What has always driven me is the magical interaction between students and the faculty," Comrie said, "and that is at the heart of what we do, whether it is our teaching, research or outreach."