Following a nationwide search, the University of Central Florida has selected renowned researcher and academic leader Tony Waldrop as its new provost.

Since 2001, Waldrop has served as vice chancellor for research and economic development at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In this position, he has been responsible for 12 university-wide research support offices and 15 research centers.

Previously, Waldrop was vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has a B.A. in Political Science, an M.A. in Physical Education and a Ph.D. in Physiology, all from UNC.

“Dr. Waldrop’s leadership at the University of North Carolina has been outstanding, and we are pleased to bring this innovative academic leader and researcher to UCF,” said President John Hitt. “Tony will help us continue to offer an affordable, high-quality education to support a wide range of scholarship in the classic disciplines and emerging fields. He also will help us continue to support the economic, cultural, intellectual and societal needs of Central Florida.”

Waldrop will start at UCF on Aug. 1. Provost and Executive Vice President Terry Hickey, who has held the position since 2003, will retire on June 30. Vice Provost Diane Chase will serve as interim provost.

The provost is the second-highest ranking officer of the university and provides academic leadership for the university’s 12 colleges, multiple campuses and research centers and institutes. The provost oversees academic support services and student services and is responsible for curriculum, academic planning, faculty appointments, faculty development and promotion and tenure decisions.

“The opportunity to help UCF continue to ‘Reach for the Stars’ as one of the nation’s premier universities is very exciting,” Waldrop said. “My experiences and personal goals are very consistent with the university’s goals. I’m looking forward to getting started and meeting and working with UCF’s faculty, staff and students.”

Waldrop will be coming to a growing metropolitan research university with more than 53,500 students, more than 10,000 employees and external research funding of $121.7 million. The average SAT score for the fall 2009 freshman class was 1225, and the university ranks in the top 50 among universities and colleges enrolling National Merit Scholars

UCF received 93 applications from around the country for the position. A committee of faculty and staff members, chaired by College of Sciences Dean Peter Panousis, led the search and interview process.

“It speaks highly of UCF that so many qualified leaders from around the country applied for this position,” Hitt said. “I commend Dr. Panousis and the committee for the hard work they put into this important process.”