LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell today announced the appointment of its new provost, the university’s chief academic officer, who will guide the institution’s future as a world-class leader in higher education.

Michael Vayda, dean of the University of Arkansas Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences, will join UMass Lowell in June as its provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. In this role, he will oversee the university’s undergraduate, graduate and online programs in the pursuit of academic excellence, lead student recruitment and admissions, and engage with alumni and the public to advance the university’s goals.

Vayda will serve as a member of UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney’s executive cabinet and play a role in fulfilling the university’s blueprint for its future, “UMass Lowell 2020: A Strategic Plan for the Next Decade.”

“It speaks to UMass Lowell’s national standing that we were able to attract someone with Michael’s talent and record of accomplishment as both an academic and an administrator. I am especially impressed by Michael’s commitment to build upon the strengths of all the colleges and his embracing of our diverse and inclusive culture. I know he will work tirelessly alongside all of us to elevate UMass Lowell to greater heights,” Moloney said.

Vayda, a Princeton-educated molecular biologist, has distinguished himself as a scholar and administrator throughout his career. He is no stranger to New England, having taught as a professor at the University of Maine and University of Vermont, where he was also an associate dean. His full curriculum vitae is available at the provost’s search webpage.

“I am truly honored to be joining Chancellor Moloney’s leadership team at UMass Lowell. The campus has made extraordinary advances in recent years and I am eager to work with the faculty to further advance UMass Lowell as an institution of opportunity for students entering a knowledge-based economy, a source of innovation with our private-sector partners and a catalyst for further economic and cultural enhancement in the Commonwealth,” Vayda said.

UMass Lowell’s growing national reputation as a top-tier public research university attracted a large field of candidates for the provost’s job. Vayda’s selection for the post was led by a search committee headed by Julie Chen, the university’s vice provost for research, and John Pulichino, ’67, ’14 (H), chairman and CEO of Group III International Ltd.

“Dr. Vayda’s record as a scholar, educator and administrator is perfectly in line with the qualifications the committee sought,” Chen said. “He rose to the top of a very strong pool of candidates with a clear vision for academic programming and faculty engagement. He not only impressed the campus community during his visit, but generated excitement about what we can collectively accomplish as a university.”

Pulichino also praised Vayda.

“Michael’s enthusiasm for UMass Lowell was definitely a strong point. The university’s success is closely linked to its ability to engage alumni and industry partners. He has the right skill set to be both a strong academic leader internally and a champion for the campus externally.”

In welcoming Vayda to UMass Lowell, Moloney as well thanked former Provost Ahmed Abdelal and current Provost Donald Pierson for their outstanding service to the university.

“We would not be in this position without Ahmed Abdelal, whose seven years of academic leadership were the most successful in the university’s history and whose legacy will never be forgotten. Don Pierson generously agreed to serve a one-year term as provost and his steady hand and deep institutional knowledge allowed us to move forward at full speed academically while conducting an exhaustive search,” Moloney said. “I also applaud the search committee and thank them for their significant contributions throughout this process.”

The national search firm Korn Ferry, which specializes in higher education leadership searches, assisted the search committee. Korn Ferry communicated with 300 prospective candidates, interviewed 73 candidates and presented the credentials of those candidates to the search committee. The search committee interviewed 13 candidates in January and four finalists visited the campus this month for open meetings with faculty and staff.