A. Dale Whittaker, a Purdue University vice provost committed to student success, innovation and partnerships, will become the University of Central Florida’s provost and vice president for academic affairs on Aug. 1.
Dr. Whittaker has served in multiple faculty and leadership positions at Purdue and Texas A&M universities. He has been Purdue’s vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs since 2010, and he currently is acting vice president for student affairs. He is also a professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
UCF President John C. Hitt praised Whittaker’s “tremendous range and depth of experience in large and excellent universities.”
“He is a professional who will help us become better in all areas of our operation and help us develop excellent educational programs that will meet the needs of Central Florida, the state and nation,” Hitt said.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Purdue among the nation’s top 25 public universities and lists Purdue’s First-Year Experience, Learning Communities, and Writing in the Disciplines programs among the best in the country.
During Whittaker’s two visits to UCF, he was impressed with the vitality and diversity of the student body, as well as the energy and loyalty that he felt throughout the campus.
“I’m deeply committed to lifting lives and livelihoods through knowledge,” he said. “Our core mission as a university is knowledge, and the impact is advancing people’s lives economically and socially for generations. What I bring to this job is a passionate commitment to that mission and high levels of energy and engagement.”
Hitt and Whittaker have worked together at the University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of 11 prestigious research universities working together to expand students’ access to higher education. Institutions joining Purdue and UCF in the coalition include Arizona State, Michigan State and Ohio State universities.
Although most of the participants are university presidents, Hitt said Whittaker “stood out as someone who had a depth of knowledge and deep understanding” of higher education and “who was committed to helping the alliance focus on its principal goal of finding cost-effective ways to produce more graduates at our universities.”
Whittaker said his goals include increasing research, expanding opportunities for graduate students and creating deeper and wider partnerships across and beyond the university.
“UCF is an economic engine for and a mirror of the Central Florida community,” he said. “It’s a great reflector of the community’s needs and its future economic development. You can see that through programs such as optics and photonics, digital media, hospitality management and the College of Medicine.”
Whittaker holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from Purdue and a bachelor’s degree in the same field from Texas A&M.
Diane Chase has served as UCF’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs since March. Chase will remain interim provost through July 31, and Hitt said the university community owes her “a deep debt of gratitude.”
“I am very, very proud of the strong leadership Diane has provided us during this transition,” Hitt said. “She is the consummate professional, and I look forward to working with her for years to come.”
More than 60 candidates from across the country applied for the provost position. The Provost Search Committee, chaired by Cynthia Young, associate dean of the College of Sciences, narrowed the list to five finalists who visited UCF. All of the candidates held open forums during their visits, and students and staff and faculty members had the opportunity to provide feedback about each candidate.