Drake’s Cramer Named Provost

Renée Ann Cramer, currently deputy provost for academic affairs at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, will succeed Neil Weissman as Provost and Dean of the college on July 1. President John E. Jones III announced the news in an email to students, faculty, and staff on Thursday afternoon.

At Drake, Cramer led faculty recruitment and development, assessment of the undergraduate curriculum, and the Center for Teaching Excellence, a similar program to Dickinson’s newly announced Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship. She supervised changes to Drake’s “culture around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” according to Jones.

Before serving as deputy provost, Cramer was the chair of the department of law, politics, and society at Drake, as well as president of the faculty senate. She currently directs two additional programs: the Slay Fund for Social Justice, which provides grants to faculty and students at Drake for work related to social justice, and the Center for Public Democracy, which supports research and dialogue on democratic institutions.

Cramer is a political scientist and legal studies scholar who received her master’s and doctorate degrees from New York University and her bachelor’s degree from Bard College. She has written three books, with her latest, Birthing a Movement: Midwives, Law, and the Politics of Midwifery Care published by Stanford University Press in 2021.

Her research interests include reproductive law, critical race and feminist legal theory, and American Indian law and politics. She has taught in all of these areas at Drake, along with introductory and senior seminar courses in the department of law, politics, and society.

When asked about the provost search in recent weeks, Jones said, “we’re replacing an iconic figure” in Weissman. He described his ideal candidate as a provost who “is a healer” in addition to possessing “political skills.” 

Cramer, he said, fits the bill. In the announcement email he wrote that faculty and staff “described her as an inspiring leader and knowledgeable higher-education professional who listens and communicates with candor.”

The college received more than 70 applications for the provost position before creating a shortlist of candidates who were invited to visit campus to speak with faculty and staff. The search committee, chaired by Vice President and General Counsel Vincent Champion and composed of faculty and staff from across the college, worked with Vice President of Human Resource Services Debra Hargrove to make the decision.

“I believe that Renée is the right person to serve as Dickinson’s chief academic officer as we move Dickinson forward,” Jones said.