Macias to conclude 25-year tenure as chief academic officer

Stellar leader propelled university’s success

Edward S. Macias, who has served as chief academic officer at Washington University in St. Louis for the past 25 years, has announced that he will step down from his position as provost and executive vice chancellor at the end of the academic year, on June 30, 2013.


“As our long-serving chief academic officer, Ed Macias has been a critical
member of the Washington University leadership team during one of the most important periods of growth in our history,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“Ed has led many important efforts that have strengthened the quality of our faculty; expanded our academic programs; enhanced the diversity of our community; and enriched the overall academic experience of our students,” Wrighton says. “He has been a trusted adviser and friend, and I am grateful for the guidance he has provided to my colleagues and me during his impressive career.”

Macias, PhD, the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences, has served as the university’s chief academic officer since 1988 when he was appointed provost. In 1995, he was named executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences, and in 2009, he once again was named provost and continued his role as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

As provost, he partners closely with the university’s seven schools and their deans to provide leadership in curriculum, budget and capital project development. He has been especially involved in cross-school collaborations, efforts to promote diversity among the university community, internationalization and online education, and his office coordinates work in areas such as enrollment, campus life, teaching and learning and interdisciplinary research centers.

“For many years, Washington University has been very fortunate to have a team of committed and effective leaders guide its ascent into the top ranks of American institutions of higher learning,” says Gerhild S. Williams, PhD, vice provost, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and the Barbara Schaps Thomas and David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities.

“Among these leaders, Ed Macias has been a stand out. His steadfast commitment to the university community and his wisdom, warmth and collegiality made him a model of the successful academic administrator.

“Whether it was providing guidance and support for chairs and deans, advising faculty members, or encouraging and counseling students, Ed has been unfailingly available to his constituency. Always interested in what his colleagues were doing, he never forgot a name or a research interest, a publication or conference, even if the research was far afield from chemistry, his own field of study and research.

“In short, a faculty member himself, he remains a friend and steadfast support to his colleagues throughout the many and successful venues of his administrative career,” Williams says. “Those who follow him will be measured by his distinguished service.”

Macias joined the university in 1970, serving in various positions including professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, director of the summer school, and dean of Arts & Sciences.

He earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Colgate University and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a thesis on nuclear and atomic structure. The author of two books and more than 90 articles, Macias’ research interests include environmental and nuclear chemistry focusing on the chemistry and physics of atmospheric particles and the effect of these particles on haze and air pollution.

Macias serves on the boards of the Center for Research Libraries, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Casa de Salud, MICDS, University City Children’s Center and the Immigration and Innovation Steering Committee.

During a year’s sabbatical, Chancellor Wrighton has tapped Macias to lead an effort to explore the university’s approach to online education and seek to better leverage advances in educational technologies to enhance Washington University’s reach and impact.

“There isn’t any question that online education offers new and exciting opportunities for Washington University, our students and many others who would benefit from the extraordinary education we offer,” Macias says. “Our challenge is to ensure that, if we award a degree, a diploma, or even course credit – regardless of the teaching delivery – it reflects the academic excellence that has made Washington University one of the world’s leading institutions. I look forward to helping the university move forward into this new frontier of learning.”

A national search will commence to identify the next provost, led by an advisory committee chaired by Chancellor Wrighton and including Trustee David Kemper. The committee will be assisted by the national search firm of Isaacson Miller.

Other committee members are:

  • Michael R. Cannon, executive vice chancellor and general counsel
  • Barbara Feiner, vice chancellor for finance
  • Hillary A. Sale, Walter D. Coles Professor of Law
  • Ralph S. Quatrano, dean of the School of Engineering and Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts & Sciences
  • Helen Piwnica-Worms, Gerty T. Cori Professor and head of cell biology and physiology
  • Matthew W. Kreuter, professor of social work
  • Heather Corcoran, associate professor of art
  • Jack A. Nickerson, Frahm Family Professor of Organization & Strategy in the Olin School
  • Gerald L. Early, Merle Kling Professor Of Modern Letters
  • Rob Wild, assistant vice chancellor and assistant to the chancellor (staff)