Cramer Excellent Choice for Provost

When The Dickinsonian staff asked Provost and Dean of the College Neil Weissman about his successor, Drake University Deputy Provost and Professor of Law, Politics, and Society Reneé Ann Cramer, he said there was “every reason to be enthusiastic” about the choice. I wholeheartedly agree.

Not only does Cramer have all of the bona fides to take over from Weissman, Dickinson’s longest-tenured provost ever, her unique expertise and experiences should prove an excellent fit for the college’s strategic priorities going forward.

Cramer comes to Dickinson from Drake, where she has experience both in faculty governance, having served as faculty senate president, and administration, in her position as deputy provost. These are important boxes to check, but where Cramer really shines is in the specific initiatives she has prioritized at Drake.

Cramer led the Center for Teaching Excellence, which provides support to Drake faculty on issues from academic technology and syllabus development to how to address the advent of generative AI tools like ChatGPT in the classroom. She should be well-positioned to oversee the development of Dickinson’s planned Center for Excellence in Teaching Learning and Research (CETLR), which will tackle similar issues. 

She is also the co-executive director of Drake’s Center for Public Democracy, whose goals – promoting “democratic discourse, dialogue, and action” – soundly resonate with Dickinson’s new Dialogues Across Difference initiative and long-running Dickinson Votes program. Her experience with the center will hopefully empower her to build connections between these curricular and co-curricular initiatives to cement Dickinson’s identity as an institution with a staunch commitment to democratic values.

Another Dickinson initiative that Cramer will inherit from Weissman is the Center for Indigenous Studies, funded by an $800,000 Mellon grant. As a scholar of Indigenous law and politics her first book was on the politics of  tribal acknowledgement Cramer will bring an important perspective to collaborate with Associate Professor of American Studies and Interim Director of the Center Darren Lone Fight. The Center for Indigenous Studies is one of the most exciting academic initiatives at the college today, and Cramer has the background to ensure that it has the support it needs from the Provost’s office.

Of course, Cramer will face some challenges as she comes into the college community as the first new provost since 2002. In addition to acclimating to a new campus climate, she will oversee a review of the faculty salary system amid questions of gender pay equity and competitive salaries, which always has the potential to ignite controversy. I am confident, however, that she will address these issues with grace and an open ear to faculty and staff.

President Jones said a few weeks ago of the provost search, “we’re replacing an iconic figure…suffice it to say there are big shoes to fill. It’s going to take a person of myriad talents to replace Mr. Weissman.” At this early stage, it looks like the search committee has found who they were looking for.