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From India to Maryland to Oregon: Meet UO’s new provost



Jayanth Banavar wants to do everything he can to improve the lives of students as the new provost and senior vice president of the University of Oregon.

Starting in July, Banavar will be taking over the spot of Scott Coltrane as the provost of UO. Banavar is currently the Dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland.

“I am deeply committed to give all I have to not let the people at the University of Oregon down because they have put their trust in me,” he said.

New provost Jayanth Banavar will begin in July. (Courtesy of University of Oregon provost office)

The UO provost and senior vice president is the chief academic officer of the university. The provost supervises the programs, research, and budget planning at the university, and has a leadership role in faculty selection and promotions.

Coltrane began serving as interim provost in July 2013 and was named the official senior vice president and provost in February 2014. The search for a new provost began last June, when Coltrane announced his retirement.

According to the UO senate’s website, there was a search committee of 17 people, containing students, professors, and deans. The search was private in order to protect the candidates from putting their current jobs in jeopardy.

Banavar believes that the faculty and staff at a university are what makes students’ experiences outstanding, and he hopes to create an atmosphere where everyone feels encouraged to be the best they can be.

“What I would like to accomplish is to make sure that students come first because we can never ever forget that we are a university and we are all about students,” he said.

Banavar got his bachelor of science and master of science in physics from Bangalore University and his Ph.D. in physics from University of Pittsburgh. Before working at the University of Maryland, Banavar worked at the Department of Physics at Pennsylvania State University for 12 years.

Banavar lived in India for the first 20 years of his life, where he lived with his family and had a sheltered life. At the age of 15, he decided to pursue physics.

“I enjoyed the notion that I could understand the universe and all that is around us,” he said.

Banavar believes that science is important for improving the quality of people’s lives. He is looking forward to the new Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and thinks such a large gift specified for science is astonishing.

Although Banavar loves science, he also believes that art and culture are what makes life worth living and hopes to encourage students to engage in both science and humanities.

“As a provost, I could really encourage interdisciplinary studies because often the ideas that matter come at the interface between disciplines,” he said.

Banavar is married and has two grown children, as well as family back in India who he tries to visit when he can. He loves to travel and feels very fortunate to be able to meet people from around the world.

In his spare time, Banavar likes to sleep because he feels that it is good for his brain. He also enjoys eating good food, watching movies, reading, and taking walks.

Banavar is looking forward to his future as the provost at UO. His goal is to give his new job his best shot. He said that he is a fast learner, and wants to work together with and learn from students, faculty, and staff.

“I feel exceedingly fortunate that I have been given this opportunity to be trusted by the people of Oregon,” he said. “I want to give back and I need everyone’s help when I get there.”

Follow Emma Henderson on Twitter @henderemma


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Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson