Date December 15, 2022
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Accomplished engineer, academic leader Francis J. Doyle III appointed 14th provost of Brown University

The current dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will take on the role of Brown’s chief academic officer, effective July 1, 2023.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Francis J. Doyle III, an accomplished engineer and academic leader who serves currently as dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been appointed Brown University’s 14th provost.

University President Christina H. Paxson announced Doyle’s appointment in a Dec. 15 letter to the Brown community.

Paxson wrote that Doyle stood out among a competitive pool of candidates for his experience in academic leadership, record of innovation, and demonstrated commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. He has a decades-long history in academic and research administration, first at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and then at Harvard, where he has served as engineering dean since 2015.

“As Brown prepares to embark on ambitious plans to significantly increase investments in scholarship and research across all academic disciplines, Frank is the right leader at the right time for the University,” Paxson wrote. “Frank has an exceptional record of leading a complex academic enterprise through extensive development of new programs, capital planning, faculty recruitment, and cultivation of philanthropic investment, all while building and strengthening community.”

Doyle will begin his tenure at Brown effective July 1, 2023, succeeding Richard M. Locke, who is concluding his term as provost in December 2022 to become dean and vice president of Apple University. Larry Larson, emeritus dean of Brown’s School of Engineering, will serve as interim provost until Doyle assumes the role in July.

Doyle will be Brown’s chief academic officer in the role of provost, which is second in seniority at the University and serves as an essential partner to the president. The provost works closely with senior deans, faculty and other administrative colleagues to advance Brown’s commitment to the liberal arts and distinctive interdisciplinary approach to education and research. Doyle will play a lead role in developing and stewarding operational plans for the University’s Building on Distinction strategic plan; growing Brown’s research enterprise; elevating the importance of the arts and humanities; advancing the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan; and enhancing academic excellence and innovation. Doyle will lead budgeting and resource prioritization in partnership with the executive vice president for finance and administration, and will play a role in capital planning to support the preservation, renewal and expansion of facilities essential for teaching, research and campus life.

According to Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff, Doyle promises to be a collaborative leader who embraces Brown’s commitments to shared governance and student-centered learning.

“In Frank Doyle, Brown will have a distinguished scholar with proven academic administrative leadership experience, exceptional judgment, the highest standards of integrity, and a demonstrated commitment to the mission and values that make Brown a distinctive teaching, learning and research community,” Mencoff said.

“The provost position at Brown is an incredible opportunity to lead the academic and research enterprise of a world-class university through a period of ambitious expansion. This resonates strongly with my intrinsic character as an entrepreneur, and as someone with a growth mindset who thrives in an environment of dynamic change.”

Francis J. Doyle III Incoming Provost, Brown University
Francis J. Doyle III

As dean of engineering at Harvard, Doyle is responsible for the research and academic mission for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He oversees financial administration, including operating finances and budgets for sponsored research, as well as fundraising. He has stewarded Harvard’s engineering program during a period of tremendous growth, with concentrations in engineering increasing from 18% to 23% of Harvard’s undergraduate student body. Among his many accomplishments, Doyle implemented strong financial management of the engineering school; cultivated some of the largest donors in the Harvard portfolio; established a new office for industry partnerships; and provided academic oversight for the design phase, construction and opening of the largest building at Harvard in over a generation.

Doyle names as one of his key achievements establishing SEAS as the “connective tissue” of Harvard University, developing numerous joint programs with other Harvard schools. These include new joint master’s degrees, new executive education programs and a new Ph.D. degree. He also established, in partnership with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a faculty working group for technology and policy, drawing academic and corporate leaders from Boston-area universities and companies to address the challenges in aligning policy and regulation with the rapid pace of technological advancement in numerous fields.

Aligned with Brown’s own commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Doyle has been the architect of a vast array of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging activities at Harvard’s engineering school, and has championed DEIB efforts across the university, the City of Cambridge, and the national and global engineering communities. These have included recruiting and retention initiatives, a new post-baccalaureate program, formation of student affinity groups, and a diversity, inclusion and belonging fellows program.

Doyle said that among the factors that drew his interest in the role at Brown is the University’s Operational Plan for Investing in Research — a roadmap for propelling research across all fields of study to new levels of excellence, with goals of strengthening the positive impact that Brown makes by advancing solutions to pressing challenges facing the world.

“The provost position at Brown is an incredible opportunity to lead the academic and research enterprise of a world-class university through a period of ambitious expansion,” Doyle said. “This resonates strongly with my intrinsic character as an entrepreneur, and as someone with a growth mindset who thrives in an environment of dynamic change.”

Doyle said he’s equally excited to work with and learn from Paxson, given her track record as an accomplished leader in higher education: “In Building on Distinction, President Paxson lays out an innovative plan for the pursuit of excellence across research and teaching at Brown. She has been a powerful advocate for the university's dual mission of academic excellence and research innovation, with appropriate emphases on investments in people and resources.”

Doyle’s appointment follows a national search launched in September. Paxson chaired a search committee that included faculty representatives from the University’s major academic divisions, and a wide array of students, staff and faculty participated in listening sessions hosted on campus and contributed their perspectives.

About Francis J. Doyle III

In addition to serving as dean of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a professor of engineering and applied sciences since July 2015, Doyle is a faculty affiliate for the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, and is on the board of directors of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in the Harvard Kennedy School.

Prior to arriving at Harvard, Doyle held several academic leadership positions while at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 2002 to 2015. He served as director of the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies from 2003 to June 2015, and as the associate dean for research at the College of Engineering from 2008 to 2015, among other roles. He held previous positions as a research fellow at the University of Stuttgart; a professor at the University of Delaware; and an associate professor at Purdue University. His industrial experience includes roles as a visiting research scientist and industrial consultant at major corporate laboratories, research and development companies, and other organizations.

Among a long list of distinctions, Doyle is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a certificate of post-graduate studies from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.