Wright returns to faculty as Khator takes over as provost

After seven years as vice provost of faculty affairs, Tennyson Wright resigned from his administrative position to return to the faculty.

Wright has been at USF since 1985 and has served as a rehabilitation counseling professor as well as in various administrative positions such as assistant provost, associate provost and finally, vice provost for the last seven years.

Wright’s departure from vice provost was a customary act to change leadership on administration’s behalf, he said.

“It is very natural and common that when a new administration assumes responsibilities that they make changes in various administrative positions,” Wright said. “In this particular case, I was reassigned to the faculty.”

However, Renu Khator, newly appointed interim provost, said it was Wright’s decision to return to the faculty.

“He did a great job (as vice provost) and is well respected by everybody,” Khator said. “But he wanted time to write his book … it was kind of a mutually agreed decision.”

This year, Wright said he would be on a one-year professional development leave. Next fall, Wright will return to the faculty by teaching research and service in the department of rehabilitation and mental health counseling.

Of the projects Wright has worked on, he said he is most proud of the establishment of policies and procedures involving tenure and promotion, compensation and academic appointments for faculty.

Prior to his appointment as vice provost in 1996, Wright was the associate provost of academic affairs and an associate professor in the department of rehabilitation and mental health counseling.

As associate provost, Wright was in charge of managing and directing the Teaching Incentive Program as well as overseeing the director of the Collective Bargaining Advisory Council, which negotiated the collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Regents and the faculty union.

Philip Smith, the current associate provost of academic affairs, has known Wright since his arrival to USF in 1985.

“I worked with him during my tenure in the provost office on a number of faculty affairs matters,” Smith said. “We both participated in the state collective bargaining team on behalf of the chancellor and the Board of Regents.”

Smith added that when Wright came into the provost’s office, Smith was director of collective bargaining and subsequently worked with Wright for many years.

“We worked a great deal together on salary projects and any number of things,” Smith said. “He’s a fine person, a very professional individual and a very competent person in every way.”

Regarding Wright’s departure, Smith said it’s hard to see someone he worked with, for so many years, move on to other things.

“I’m happy for him as he pursues his professional career,” Smith said. “(Though) I will miss him, he continues to be a good friend.”

Succeeding Wright as new vice provost of faculty affairs is Robert Chang, former chair of the department of physics.

After an official search Khator appointed Chang to the Provost office and said he was the best fit for the position.

“Dr. Chang has a lot of integrity and the utmost respect for the faculty,” Khator said. “He has a vision and cares a lot about the academics.”

Chang worked as chair of the department of physics for seven years before his appointment as chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Chang’s vision, Khator said, has a lot to do with his background as a scientist.

“(Chang) is very analytical. He likes to look at facts,” Khator said. “Therefore, (Chang) knows the internal and external environment in which we work.”

Khator said Chang’s distinctive approach toward his faculty in the physics department was something she rarely saw.

“(Chang) spent a lot of time with the new faculty at (the physics) department by mentoring them and making sure they had what they needed to succeed,” Khator said.

Chang said he is looking forward to building a connection between faculty and the administration.

“Hiring good faculty, keeping that faculty and mentoring them creates a good program,” Chang said. “Good faculty and good programs will attract quality students to USF.”

Smith said he previously worked with Chang in this capacity in the provost’s office before Chang was appointed to vice provost.

“(Chang) is a thoroughly professional individual who is a very capable person,” Smith said. “We work together well and we work very closely now.”