Office of the Provost

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The Office of the Provost is the domain of the administrator who ranks directly below the University President. The current provost is John Coatsworth.

The Provost is in charge of academic matters, and serves as the chief academic officer of the university. All matters relating to faculty hiring, retention, compensation, tenure are the responsibility of the Provost, as are curricular matters. The Provost's counterpart, who handles operational and administrative concerns of the university, is the Senior Executive Vice President, a post currently held by Robert Kasdin.

Offices reporting to the Provost

The Provost is one of the most overworked administrators at Columbia, with no less than 22 direct reports, split into roughly five divisions. Most management theorists believe the optimal number of direct reports is 6-8. This is why in past years, the Provostship has been split into three co-equal offices, separating Morningside arts & sciences, Morningside professional schools, and health sciences.

In this chart, direct reports are rendered as normal text. Delegated reports (included for the sake of clarity) are denoted in italics.

Morningside Academic Units


Academic Administration

Pan-University Offices

Affiliated Entities


The provostship has a long but rather inconsistent history. The office was first created in 1811 and initially given to John Mitchell Mason. Mason was widely favored for the Presidency, following the office's vacancy that year. Unfortunately, he had the ill fortune to be a Presbyterian, and so he was de facto disqualified. The office went instead to William T. Harris, and Mason was given the newly-created position of Provost. In recognition of their relative importance and qualification, Mason received $3400 / year as Provost while Harris received $500 / year as President. When Mason stepped down in 1816, the office was abolished, not to be revived again until 1912, when William H. Carpenter became Provost under President Nicholas Murray Butler. When Carpenter stepped down in 1927, the office was only used as a means to administer summer sessions. Frank Fackenthal stepped into the office as it resumed its university-wide portfolio, serving from 1937 to 1946. The office was vacant for a year after his departure, but would be revived permanently in 1947.

From 1980 to 1983, the provostship was divided among three positions: a provost for the Arts and Sciences, a provost for the Morningside Professional Schools, and a provost for Health Sciences. Since then the provostship has been unified, and the offices of Vice President of Arts and Sciences and Executive Vice President of Health and Biomedical Services were created beneath it.

List of Provosts