André-Denis Wright

Pictured is André-Denis Wright, a microbiologist who will serve as the University of Oklahoma's new provost and senior vice president. Wright brings academic experience from universities across the U.S. and from Australia. (Photo provided)

The University of Oklahoma announced Thursday that André-Denis Wright, a microbiologist who brings academic experience from universities across the U.S. and Australia, will serve as its new provost and senior vice president.

Wright, currently dean of Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, will start as OU’s provost and senior vice president July 1, pending the Board of Regents’ approval.

“Through his many accomplishments as a renowned scientist and a proven administrative leader, Dr. André-Denis Wright has demonstrated a unique commitment to collaboration and scholarly excellence, making him an ideal choice to serve as provost,” OU President Joe Harroz said in a statement. “Our university’s pursuit to become one of the nation’s top public research institutions while equipping our students for a lifetime of positive impact will be bolstered by Dr. Wright’s essential leadership. We look forward to welcoming him to Norman soon.”

OU has operated under interim provost Jill Irvine since last July, when former provost Kyle Harper officially stepped down from the position for a full-time faculty role. Just a few months before he stepped down, OU’s Black Emergency Response Team had called for Harper’s removal from the position, citing his years-long inaction and silence on numerous public racist incidents at the university.

OU’s provost oversees the academic side of the university, helping manage curriculum, budgeting, faculty recruitment, academic policy and more. In his role as provost, Harper played an active role in building the university’s strategic plan, helping set academic and financial goals for the coming years.

According to the university, the open provost position received 55 applicants, five of whom became semifinalists and participated in virtual forums with some OU community members.

Wright, who is from Canada and received his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD at Canadian universities, has previously worked with universities across the U.S. Before his arrival at Washington State in 2018, Wright served as endowed chair and director of the University of Arizona’s School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences; prior to that, he was department chair and professor of animal science at the University of Vermont.

Wright also worked more than 10 years in Perth, Australia, with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, where he eventually became a principal research scientist.

“With his distinguished record of grant-funded research, extensive and impressive record of publication in the biological sciences, and his international reputation as a scientific reviewer for the governments of Canada and various European nations, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. André-Denis Wright to the faculty of our Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences,” OU Dean of Arts and Sciences David Wrobel said in a statement.

Wrobel and OU Dean of Students David Surratt co-chaired the search committee for the provost position.

Emma Keith is editor of The Transcript, and covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma. Reach her at ekeith@normantranscript.com or at @emma_ckeith.

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Emma Keith covers the coronavirus pandemic and education for The Norman Transcript, with a focus on Norman Public Schools and The University of Oklahoma. She is a 2019 OU graduate.